Why Are the Feds Slow On the Uptake in Oregon?

Militiaman

It didn’t take us long to get into the Year 2016 until we have our first serious confrontation.

Armed militiamen (we’ll get into this in a moment) have “taken over” a federal headquarters for a national park ridge in Oregon following a protest in a nearby town. Swearing to fight off “anyone” who threatens to try to remove them from the land, these ammosexuals who got dressed in their Sunday-finest camouflage to “go to meetin’” say they will maintain the post and continually brag about the weaponry they have and the numbers (approximately 150 by estimates). Oh, and their leader is the son of the Nevada cretin Cliven Bundy, who was doing well with his own diatribe against the federal government (despite the factor he owes over $1 million in grazing rights fees) until he started talking about how the “Negro” needed to be treated.

Yes, Ammon Bundy is at the helm of this little coffee klatch, except the problem is the klatch doesn’t have books (they may have coffee), it has AR-15s. One of many militiamen who flooded to Oregon to protest the further jailing of two Oregonites for arson (they admitted they were burning their land, the fire got out of control and that they threatened federal authorities who put the fire out; originally jailed for a short period of time, federal judges said it should have been longer and the men had to surrender to authorities), Bundy and his buddies decided they weren’t quite ready to head back to Nevada. Instead, they thought it would be a good idea to forcibly take a federal property, then swear that they would shoot any local, state or federal agent who came to try to force them from the area.

Lovely way to start the year, isn’t it?

There are several problems with this beyond simply the legal issues that it implies (and those would be treason, sedition and, if any federal, state or local officers were killed or injured, first degree murder charges; then we’d get to the small shit like seizing federal property). The people in Oregon whom Bundy says he’s helping have said they DON’T WANT HIS HELP. The two men involved in the arson case have already reported to federal prison to continue to serve their sentences and have issued statements through their attorneys that in no way do those at the Bundy camp represent them. It doesn’t stop with just the two men at the center of the case, either.

The Pacific Patriot Network, a loose-knit group that claims to oversee militias on the West Coast, said it “does not support seizing federal property” even though it understood the frustration with the federal government. A group that united behind the Bundys in 2014 in their case in Nevada, the Oath Keepers, has made sure to keep a far distance away from Ammon Bundy this time around. Although others wouldn’t speak ill of Bundy, they also “wish he wouldn’t have done this,” according to a report from Reuters, because it draws a mark of ill-repute on militias.

But here’s the big question that surrounds this situation. Why haven’t the federal authorities – either park rangers, Federal Bureau of Investigation officers, Department of the Interior officers, SOMEONE from the government – reacted to the situation? Is it because it isn’t a threat to anyone at this point? Or is it because these are whites involved in the situation?

The federal government hasn’t exactly had the best track record when it comes to armed standoffs with anti-government opponents. The incident in 1992 in Ruby Ridge, ID, that led to the death of three people (including a woman, a child and one U. S. Marshal) is considered to be one of the worst run operations in the history of law enforcement. Using a Rules of Engagement that was extremely draconian (down to the killing of noncombatants and animals, if necessary), the Ruby Ridge incident was held up as how “not” to handle such a situation.

While the hearings regarding the Ruby Ridge incident were ongoing, the FBI and ATF agents earned another blemish on their records. In attempting to deliver an arrest warrant on David Koresh and a search warrant of his Branch Davidians compound in Waco, TX, four ATF agents and six members of Koresh’s Branch Davidians religion were killed. After a 51-day standoff, the FBI and ATF – believing that children were in danger inside the compound – raided the compound. A resulting fire (investigations revealed it to have been set by those inside the compound in a final suicide pact with Koresh) from the attack killed the 76 people who were inside the compound.

Since those two incidences, however, the federal government has been rather subdued in its responses to domestic incidences. The Bundy case from 2014 – where 1000 militiamen basically dared agents to take some shots at them, all for naught – is a case in point. It is also very likely that this case in Oregon could be run much like the 2014 Bundy case was handled by federal authorities.

In essence, this is a battle being fought on the government’s turf. They can cut off electricity to the building, cut off water, put a loose circle of agents around the area – or none at all – and simply wait for Bundy and his fellow yahoos to decide that playing soldier isn’t as much fun when you have to fend for yourself. Then they’ll come out and, as they do, you pick them up and charge them with an assortment of laws that they’ve broken – or do nothing at all and make them look even more foolish.

There is another point being bandied about out there and it does bear some discussion amongst the adults in the room. These are all, for the most part, middle-aged white males who are involved in this situation in Oregon. What would be the reaction of the federal authorities if there were 150 black, Latino or Asian men heavily armed and storming a federal building?

It is loosely comparable, but we’ve seen a similar response from governmental authorities in the past. In 1985, police in Philadelphia, armed with arrest warrants and orders to evict members of the Black Power group MOVE from a building, instead ended up in a firefight with said group. The Police Commissioner at that time, Commissioner Gregore Sambor, ordered the building to be bombed and Philadelphia Police Lieutenant Frank Powell dropped two one pound “water-gel explosive” devices on the roof of the house.

The results were catastrophic. Not only did the resulting explosion destroy the top of the building, it started a fire that spread to an estimated 65 buildings that surrounded the targeted house (police also refused to allow for firefighters to fight the fire, due to the chance MOVE members might shoot at them). In the end, eleven members of MOVE, including five children, died as a result of the fire, 250 people were left homeless (MOVE members who survived said that survivors were shot at by police as they fled the carnage) and ZERO political or law enforcement personnel faced any repercussions from the event.

Perhaps we’ve come a distance since that day in 1985 – or even those days in 1992 or 1993 – where such usages of force would be considered. There are easier ways to bring about the closure of a standoff – some of which I mentioned previously, cutting off water, power, essentials that would eventually force someone out of a stance – rather than going in with guns blazing. With this current situation, we can only hope that it ends with a peaceful solution; with a Bundy involved, however, and the rhetoric they and the militias wield, they will try to push every button possible to try to goad the government into a fight.

Is The “American” Too Stupid To Handle The Responsibility of Guns?

HeyCongress

The United States, in its creation and its development, is one of the most brilliant experiments that has occurred in human history. Instead of a homogenous society such as many Asian nations or one of tribal dominance such as those that are found in Africa, the United States of America was a true attempt at something that many would feel is impossible:  incorporating different people, different ideologies and different cultures into a “melting pot” where the end goal is an amalgam of the world’s best into a new creature…an “American” (I must say at this point I’ve never liked the term “American” – when that term is used, I immediately wonder “North, South or Central?” How about “citizen of the United States?”). While the list of success stories from the 200-plus years of the existence of the United States of America – and another 150 years or so of settlement into this earthen laboratory – are some of the greatest in mankind’s history, there are some areas where the nation has fallen short.

One of those areas has become painfully evident as details have come out over the past few days. Last Thursday a white male walked into a community college in Oregon and, with no provocation or apparent motive, gunned down nine classmates and instructors and wounded another seven people. In the more than 72 hours since the last echo of gunshots filtered across the Oregon landscape, we’ve dredged up the old tapes of the previous arguments over past mass shooting situations rather than advancing any significant solutions for changing the climate.

The “Usual Suspects” have divided along their prescribed lines, with one side stating that further laws on guns are a necessity to prevent this from happening again. The other side states that it is their “God given right” to have weapons, as many as they want, and any move to take them away is roughly akin to an attack against the very fabric of life itself. The potential reality, however, is that this new creature we’ve created – the “American” – is too fucking stupid to handle the responsibility of guns.

In looking at it from the “law of the land” – the U. S. Constitution – there would appear to be nothing that could be done, but that would be inaccurate. The Second Amendment – “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” – was put into the Bill of Rights for the essential purpose of having each state providing its own Army – its “Militia” – for the defense of the individual State and for the purpose of providing a standing Army for the federal government. The people who would make up that “Militia” would be the citizens of the state, who would need weaponry to be able to fight in battle (not to mention that they already had these weapons for providing food for their families).

Fast forward to the 21st century and the theory of the state-run “Militia” has run its course. The federal government has the responsibility for the national defense, accepting volunteers from its citizenry, thus the theory that a person may have to join a “Militia” to defend their state or country is an antiquated one (no more so than blacks and women don’t have the right to vote, for example…that was also in the Constitution at one time). Since hunting has now also become a leisure activity for virtually everybody rather than a survival one, sane people would naturally examine the point of weapons in today’s society.

Secondly, let’s look at the situation from the evolution of weapons. In the 18th century, the weapon of choice for many in the Colonies was a musket, which took anywhere from two to five minutes to load up with a single shot. The weapon’s effective range was about 50 meters (roughly 164 feet), meaning you had to virtually be right beside your target before you squeezed the trigger (in those days, ammunition was expensive and not to be wasted). It was also fairly easy to see when you had your musket with you; at 60 inches (five feet), there wasn’t anywhere on your body to conceal the weapon.

Once again, let’s rocket through history to today. Weapons such as the AR-15 – which was the predecessor to the military usage M-16 – have become popular for ownership by civilians for their ease of use as well as their power. That weapon can be converted to be able to fire fully automatic, meaning it can spew rounds out at the rate of hundreds per minute (remember the musket was a shot every two to five minutes) and has an effective target range of 500 meters or more (in the hands of a military person or someone well trained on the weapon). Even a .45 automatic handgun can pop out rounds at around one per second (60) and has an effective range of about 100 meters, if the shooter is quick with the trigger and reloading the weapon. And this isn’t even introducing a weapon such as the M-60, a weapon with the range of 1200 meters and up to 2000 meters in a trained sniper’s hands. When comparing the two situations, any logically minded person might entertain the option, at the minimum, that the Second Amendment WASN’T written with today’s sophisticated weaponry in mind.

US Stupidity

Finally, let’s take a look at the general stupidity of those that own weapons today. In September the state of Georgia, who for some unexplainable reason allow for weapons to be carried in bars, was greeted with a shootout in a bar when several people whipped out their weapons just before 3AM in the morning. Three people were found shot there and seven others, looking to avoid police, took themselves to the hospital. Only the stupidity of not being able to aim a weapon properly prevented a significant loss of life in this instance.

Typing the search phrase “child finds gun and shoots” into Google returns over five MILLION results on the subject. Looking up “person cleaning gun shoots” returns over EIGHT MILLION hits, including a North Carolina father who shot his 10-year old son to death while wiping down his shotgun in 2013. Last year a Las Vegas gun instructor handed an Uzi to a nine-year old girl on a gun range. The girl, unable to properly control the weapon, killed the instructor immediately as she struggled with its power. These and other stories continually demonstrate the stupidity of the “American” to simply maintain their weapons safely, keep them out of the hands of those who might not know what to do with them or even momentarily pause to think if something this dangerous should be done at all.

The gun fanatics can be shot down quickly. “The only counter for a bad guy…” yeah…yeah…yeah. How many times has that “good guy” taken down the baddie? On the grounds of that community college in Oregon were several people with concealed/carry permits and at least one person who was actively carrying. What did they do to stop the situation? In such a situation, the objective is to head for cover, not open up like it’s the fucking Wild West and escalate a situation beyond what it is. The Virginia Tech shooting was done on campus in the midst of plenty of University police and security…the shooter stopped his rampage when he committed suicide. I don’t see these “good guys” civilians jumping up and, even if they could, their own personal logic and training would probably prevent them from taking action and making a situation worse.

“It’s a right…”yeah…yeah…yeah. It was previously a “right” for women not to vote, that slaves were 3/5 of a person (so much for that “all created equal” stuff), that you couldn’t drink, etc. Rights are critical to keeping society free, sure. Rights aren’t set in stone, however; recognize the end of slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights and the end of Prohibition. Besides, if Donald Trump can debate the legality of the 14th Amendment, maybe it’s time we started to take a look at all of them in our current society.

“I’m protecting against the tyrant Obama and the New World Order…” yeah…yeah…yeah. You’re part of the problem, bub, and shouldn’t be holding a weapon if you believe in a conspiracy theory like that (the “New World Order” or Illuminati is pretty lame if it has been in existence for well over 600-700 years and hasn’t TAKEN OVER ANYTHING). Put down the weapon, step away from it slowly and pick up your tinfoil hat and binky to suck to help keep you calm. (Funny how we never heard about these armed “Militias” wanting to take down President Bush, isn’t it? Perhaps that’s a question for another time…)

The stupidity of “Americans” regarding weapons will continue until there is some change to the mentality. There are fewer restrictions on guns than there are on an automobiles; while admittedly not a right, driving an auto requires an age requirement, insurance, licensing, training on the vehicle (we just don’t allow anyone to jump into a gasoline tanker truck without the proper training) and, if they don’t abide by the rules, then people are punished both financially and with their very freedom. Why can’t the same thing be done regarding our love affair with guns? If your too stupid to be able to handle them responsibly, then you don’t need to have them at all.

I won’t go through the litany of civilized nations that have come up with the answer to the questions we United States citizens face regarding the gun issue. If we continue to let the stupid rule the issue, however, we are doomed to continual tragedy. If we cannot get this system under control, then we will continue to see (to paraphrase a Jimmy Buffett song about ignoring problems around you) “a river of blood pouring out from a wound that will not heal.”

“Routine” Tragedies Will Continue Until the Chain is Broken

We didn’t even wait until later into October to get our “mass shooting of the month” out of the way for the next 30 days or so. In Oregon this afternoon, a man walked onto the grounds of Umpqua Community College, entered the classrooms and, reportedly after querying his potential victims on their religious backgrounds, appears to have executed 10 people. The shooter would injure another seven people before police arrived on the scene and gunned him down.

We’ve become numb to it in the United States, these mass shootings where someone – whether for religious or racial reasons, whether they are mentally ill or completely sane – snuffs out the existences of those who are either at the beginning of what should be great lives (the Sandy Hook shootings), defending our nation (Chattanooga), joyously praising their God in a house of worship (Charleston), meeting with their Congressional district’s residents (Tucson) or just simply going to school, trying to learn something to advance themselves (Columbine).

First off, let’s define a “mass shooting.” The definition has come to be determined that which A) four or more people are victims, and B) don’t include gang killings or the death of multiple members of the same family. This criteria makes sense in that emotion (such as a familial situation) or an involuntary occurrence (killing two people at the same time by accident) wouldn’t fall into the equation. Using the criteria, this would include every one of the situations noted a couple of paragraphs previous and would also include the Aurora, CO, theater massacre, among several others. What wouldn’t make the “grade”? The recent point-blank execution of the journalists in Virginia, unless you want to count the shooter as Victim #4.

As to be expected, the respective representatives came out on both sides and began to toss their rhetoric. President Barack Obama summed up one end perhaps most concisely in saying, “Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this. Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel, and it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple months from now.” Of course, after Obama made this statement, gun advocates screamed that he was “politicizing” the situation when it “wasn’t appropriate.”

The National Rifle Association, which is about as oriented to the safe usage of weapons as Volkswagen was in creating environmentally safe vehicles, will continue to wail about how it isn’t about the guns. “It’s about the people,” they’ll sniffle as they hug their little weapon close to their chest, petting it gently. “If they weren’t bad people/high on drugs/mentally ill (choose your excuse du jour), then they wouldn’t have done something like this…It wasn’t the gun’s fault, though (Pat…Pat).” And when their paid henchmen in Congress get up and repeat this line of bullshit, they should be forced to go look at the bodies of the dead as they lie on the grounds of a college or a school playground and then try to repeat their idiocy.

Strangely enough, the rest of the world doesn’t have this problem. Using the criteria set above regarding what constitutes a mass shooting, between 1966 and 2012 (this isn’t even counting the last couple of years of this fucked-up situation) there were 292 such incidences around the world. While they weren’t all in the United States, a sizeable chunk of them were. There were 90 such mass shootings in the U. S., meaning that although the U. S. makes up 5% of the world, we have 31% of the mass shootings. Finally, in the U. S. shootings, more than half of the cases involved a shooter with more than one gun; in the foreign cases, the gunman usually had one weapon. For the gun nuts in the crowd, here’s something to hang your hat on:  the average number of victims in U. S. shootings is 6.87 per incident; internationally, it is 8.8 victims.

In another study from the Harvard School of Public Health looking at mass shooting incidences between 2011 and 2014, mental illness is examined as the cause for the attacks. While the rates of mental illness remain level for the time period, the research shows that mass shootings tripled in frequency. The study also showed that, in the previous 30 years, mass shootings occurred about every 200 days; in the three years examined closely, that rate had dropped to 64 days.

So what can we learn from this data? The problem with mass shootings isn’t about who is committing the atrocities, it IS in the choice of what they are using to complete their twisted fantasies. Weapons – handguns, rifles, shotguns, etc. – are the reason that so many people are being killed when someone decides to commit these acts. We often hear from the gun lobby, “Well, if he had a knife and did the same thing, would you ban the knife?” The answer is probably not because, with only one knife, there’s the chance that the situation could be averted and/or not as extreme in its deaths. When someone has a rack of weapons and enough ammunition to fight their way out of a Syrian village, many people are going to die or be permanently scarred from the wounds they receive.

It’s time we actually did something about this situation. The fuckheads on the opposite side of the aisle – those that suck at the teat of the National Rifle Association and spout off about how their “Second Amendment rights” are under siege when there hasn’t been a federal gun law enacted in the United States since the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban that expired under President George Bush (Bush II, as I like to say) – will spout off about how “this isn’t the time” to talk about the plague of mass shootings in the United States. If this isn’t the time – and if it wasn’t appropriate the first 100 times this occurred in this country – then what the fuck time is a good one?

The NRA needs to get the hell out of the discussion or quit being obstructionist and admit that it is time that there are strong regulations put in place on all weapons in the United States. I consistently hear that the NRA grassroots isn’t represented by the hateful, rhetoric spewing Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the organization, and that those “sensible gun owners” actually wouldn’t mind having some regulatory laws regarding guns on the books. It is time that this segment of the NRA shows up and forces their elected leadership to listen to them instead of allowing for a radical minority (if it is so) of the NRA to dictate the course of action.

They should acquiesce to federal licensing of weapons to individuals (we have stronger licensing principals in place for driving a fucking car, mind you, than owning a piece of military hardware created to end lives) and for all gun owners to have liability insurance on their weapon if it is used in a criminal act (that way there is some compensation outlet for the victims, at the minimum). Finally, gun show sales should be halted and a 10-day “waiting period” should be instituted for ANY gun purchase, be it a semi-automatic pistol, a pump shotgun or a pellet gun.

It’s tough to give any anger to those who are the victims of such acts, but there are some things that can be done. First off, sometimes things will happen in the course of life (easy for me to wax philosophically over) that we cannot prevent. We can never understand why certain things, especially some of the vilest crimes committed by mankind, happen in our existence. All that can be done in some cases is investigate it thoroughly and use the information to try to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Furthermore, even if the above laws were ALL put into place, there would still be mass shootings – they probably just wouldn’t be as prevalent as they are today. Normally sane people would still be able to stockpile weapons, even those that have no application in hunting and are created especially for the act of warfare and killing other humans, and ammunition will still be plentiful. As such, someone might be able to talk a buddy into giving, selling and/or stealing from enough guns to inflict such pain.

Finally, mental illness is a viable reason for mass shootings so, when it comes to those challenges, the U. S. should revamp the system and adequately fund and support the system. As it is now, the U. S. as a whole does NOT put enough money into education on the subject, treatment of those afflicted with the differing mental illnesses nor provide enough to adequately assist these people upon their return to public life. Without attention being paid to this area, then all the laws instituted won’t have any effect.

If six-year old children, pregnant women, members of the Armed Forces, churchgoing people, high school and college students and, yes, even the everyday Average Joe being executed by the business end of a firearm through no fault of their own doesn’t spur you to action, then you cannot be a member of the human race. It is time we end this scourge of mass shootings in the United States or, at the minimum, rein them in tremendously and reduce the number of times that the nation sheds tears for those murdered viciously.

Let’s just hope that we’re not talking about this again in a couple of weeks…