Empty rituals

Mia’s bagged it.

In a perfect world, I would be writing about a cat in a sack, the hummingbird snuggled into a nest outside my office window, or the bunny that just hopped by underneath it.

This is not a perfect world.

I have nothing pertinent to add to what James Fallows has written on the four themes in “the empty rituals of a gun massacre.”

Closer to home, Texas Monthly Dan Solomon reminds us that Gov. Greg Abbott, who has overseen a steady expansion of gun rights, is even more clueless than the rest of us if he really thinks the latest massacre is “incomprehensible.”

Abbott, who first won election in 2014, has had a lot of opportunities to learn how to comprehend this kind of violence. In November 2017, a man entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs and killed 26 people. Six months later, a seventeen-year-old high school student shot and killed eight of his classmates and two teachers at Santa Fe High School, outside of Houston. A little more than a year later, in August 2019, a far-right gunman who had posted a manifesto online drove from Dallas to El Paso and murdered 23 shoppers in a Walmart. Later that month, a shooter killed 7 people in Odessa and injured 25 others. Thus far in 2022 alone, there have been 21 mass shootings in Texas. Uvalde is just the deadliest.

I’m not singling out Texas. Here in The Duck! City we have teenagers shooting up gas stations (and killing all the wrong people) over drug deals gone sideways. Plus, New Mexico leads the nation in pedestrian deaths per resident population, traffic deaths being another problem we have decided to do nothing about (beyond jacking our jaws, that is).

These are problems with solutions. We have decided not to solve them. We love our SUVs and our AR-15s. The body count is something the survivors have agreed we can live with.


31 Responses to “Empty rituals”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    We let just about everyone drive, with predictable results such as NM being #1 in killing pedestrians. We don’t let everybody drive a Freightliner, just those with an advanced license. Imagine the consequences if we let someone get a license in a Civic and then get behind the wheel of a tractor trailer. Maybe ARs are the gun equivalent of Freightliners.

    Like so many, this guy had a history that in retrospect gets your attention like a field of red flags. But it’s Texas. Where a person who just hit 18 gets the money to buy two expensive ARs (Daniel Defense ain’t the budget guns) and all that ammo and a handgun is a separate question. I could barely cover my Golden Arches bill the summer I graduated from high school.

    Bari Weiss covered it pretty well.

    • Opus the Poet Says:

      Except we don’t even have a firearms license, much less an advanced license for guns like AR-15s.

  2. Libby Says:

    Well said. My following comment is inadequate. Thank you for highlighting elected officials and the people who elect them and prove over and over they are okay with the consequences.

  3. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Well, the NRA is having their annual meeting in Houston this weekend. Perhaps there will be a protest outside the convention? Nah. But, the thought and prayer folks will be there for sure.

  4. Ira Says:

    Maybe guns do kill people?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Maybe, possibly, yes. They could use a little help from other people, though. We need a new slogan: “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People. With Guns.”

      • khal spencer Says:

        I usually do a small edit to those claims that an AR-15 killed someone. No, but a person shooting an AR-15 can definitely kill someone. Triggers don’t pull themselves nor do guns storm into schools without someone carrying them.

        Bari Weiss understated the problem. The country has gone batshit crazy.

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        AR-15 and AK-47 type military weapons allow crazy people to kill more people in less time. Bring the 1994 assault weapon ban, without the loopholes, sunset clause, and grandfather exclusions back this year. And while you’re at it, fill Lakes Mead and Powell back up to 100% capacity. There, fixed it.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I’m thinking about unilaterally disarming. I never shoot any more, but I still have these friggin’ guns cluttering up the joint. Herself has been after me for years to get rid of them. I bet I could turn them into a Taylor GS Mini and maybe a Yamaha flute.

        • khal spencer Says:

          If you have one of those heavy frame 357’s, let me know what you want for it. Unless you are gonna turn that in to the P.D. like you did the Mini-30.

        • Pat O’Brien Says:

          Guns to guitars and flutes? Yea, why not? I have one left. Haven’t shot it in six years. And, that thought has also crossed my mind.

          • khal spencer Says:

            If I croak, my former post doc and brothers can divvy up the goods and put the rest on consignment. Except the AR. My will stipulates that particular bad boy gets sawn up and melted down. I don’t want that goddamn thing to go to anyone else. Bad enough I enjoy shooting it, but never at something with a pulse.

        • John A Levy Says:

          I will not be disarming because this country will soon wake up to the fact that you can’t fix crazy. My 270 and .22 .revolver and 410 shotgun will at least give me a chance when the nut jobs come. I live in a part of the world where dumbasses believe the Red headed moron. Add a few militia nuts and a White Supremacist or two and the fuse is torched off on a crazy rocket. My paltry arsenal will not do much damage but it is a finger in the dike. As I tell my right-wing acquaintances even liberals in Montana have guns and know how to use them. Don’t hunt anymore and the little guns scare off coyotes the four (4) legged kind. and birds. But not going down alone is weirdly comforting. My southern Colorado upbringing will not wear out.

  5. peterwpolack Says:

    I’m currently reading, Elizabeth Williamson’s Book, “Sandy Hook-An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth”, She covers the event and the widespread hoax/conspiracy fomented by Alex Jones, etal in the aftermath. I’m on her side, FYI.

    My first thought after the Texas massacre, and a sarcastic thought at that was, when is Alex Jones and Infowars going to start claiming Uvalde was a false flag event, or no one really died; they were all actors? I’m counting down the minutes…

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      O, AJ is already jacking his jaw on that score. What a pity nobody has thought to snatch him up, spray him with Super Glue and hair sweepings from a Sandy Hook barber shop, and air-drop his fat ass into West Texas, smack into the middle of one of their hog hunts.

  6. Opus the Poet Says:

    AJ started with the “false flag” bs his next show after the slaughter.
    Beto confronted Abbott first chance he got preceding the NRA convention in Houston.
    Abbott offered “thoughts and prayers” even though he lacks the ability to perform one of those actions.

  7. khal spencer Says:

    Why housing is a rip off.

  8. DownhillBill Says:

    People always want simple one-step solutions to the mass shooting horrors. No one (or 2, or 3, or…) change(s) will do more than provide a temporary feeling of satisfaction to some people. Thinking that firearm regulations or bans alone will do it is about like asserting that we can solve our obesity epidemic by banning all utensils other than tiny forks and spoons. Moral bankruptcy is an even bigger and thornier problem, not to even mention stupidity and selfishness. See ex-president White Trash if you need a shining example of all the above….

    As a crime victim, I am not about to unilaterally disarm. I do support better background checks, close regulation of body armor, no personal use or possession of tanks or nukes, etc., etc. None of that is nearly enough, though. It just doesn’t fix crazy. We as a society don’t even seem to _want_ to do that. Not if it costs an extra $ or two. And that’s where the problem really lies.

    People at least need to take what personal responsibility they can. Someone thought it was an acceptable idea to leave the doors of that Texas school unlocked. Some of those cops evidently thought it was OK to stand around outside twiddling their thumbs while little kids were being shot, instead of doing what everyone else there thought they should do.

    I fear for the future of this country.

    • khal spencer Says:

      I recall the de-institutionalization stuff as well as the GOP fighting Obamacare and other social programs tooth and nail. Then, the Orange Turd’s constant shit-disturbing and hate mongering.

      Seems the motto of the GOP should be “more nukes and kooks”.

  9. Shawn Says:

    In the midst of recent very tragic events in our country; the question of whether we should turn in our fire weaponry so that it can be recycled into other things like chinese aircraft carriers; and the truth of whether the American Dream of owning your home will forever be just a dream in our fine capitalist society, I thought I’d add some levity and bring up an issue that really touches us all to our cores:


    Well, maybe it doesn’t touch all of us, some of us, or any of us because we couldn’t care less about Di2 and whether it synchs with our garage doors or not. I think I’ll sleep ok tonight knowing that my loyal Japanese mechanical derailleurs will continue to know where they are during my next ride.

    and wait, there’s more: Perhaps Shimano will swoop in and acquire Peloton just because their sick of seeing people dump good money on a piece of equipment that still uses a circa 1960’s dial-a-load knob.

  10. khal spencer Says:

    More from Shimano.

    • Shawn Says:

      That is great ! I went directly to the U-de-Tube website so that I could watch it in full screen.

      It would be cool to see the next UCI XC Champ come out of that group.

  11. DownhillBill Says:

    Thanks for posting that, Khal. That’s my home town, and my hat is off to the folks working that program. Many years ago I was a welfare eligibility worker in the City of Richmond and saw that the housing projects are a fine example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions – they are incubators for all sorts of bad influences. Those kids have the deck stacked against them from the start, and it’s a wonder that so many of them make it through intact, despite all the hazards and evil influences. There are, to be sure, good influences too, but they face a continuing uphill struggle.

    Lots of those kids have very little exposure to many things normal for middle class people. I play snare drum in a Scottish bagpipe band. We once played for an “elementary doctorate” graduation at Fairfield Court school (seen in one of the videos). Kids in that program study a subject in detail, and write and defend a thesis of their choosing. It’s all about encouraging them to stay in school and aspire to high school, college and grad school. The superintendent, school board members, and most of the student body attended. When we marched in piping and drumming wearing full uniform with kilts, those kids looked at us as though we were from Mars. Compared to their normal experience, we were. If they haven’t seen something, how can they imagine it? Staying in school to get multiple degrees is unthinkable to most of those kids without a program like that. You may have noticed that TV programming is hardly obsessed with academics.

    I was riding up the longest hill on a longer-than-normal century, and was passed (most of the way up) by the RCC founder guy who was coaching one of his riders as they climbed. Also pretty nearly unthinkable without that example.

    I’m not a huge Shimano fan (I still miss SunTour) but they deserve kudos for publicizing and encouraging RCC.

  12. Pat O'Brien Says:

    “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

    American impatience is legendary. And, our penchant for analysis paralysis is also strong. This guy walked into the school and quickly fired 100 rounds according to the police. The number may be slightly off since a semiautomatic rifle with a 30 rounds magazine can fire so quickly that it is hard to count. That is precisely what they are designed to do. Now you can complicate this all you want, but tell me how the guy could do that, along with quickly killing 21 women and children in a classroom, without an assault weapon with high capacity magazines? Get rid of them, and the body count will go down. Getting it down to zero will require much more thinking and action. It’s simple.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Congress would have to get rid of any centerfire thing capable of having an external magazine, whether rifle or pistol. I often hear about the bad guys in the Duck! City showing up for war with extended magazines hanging out of a Glock. The Virginia Tech guy mowed down his targets with a couple of semiauto pistols.

      So as far as banning all the goddamn things, I don’t see that happening, at least not yet. For that matter, O’G’s former Mini-30 and my Mini-14 are never considered AWs because they have plain old wood stocks. But they do the same thing as my plastic fantastic rifle, direct impingement and all. I once timed emptying a magazine out of my Mini-14 and figured I was good for about 100 theoretical rounds per minute. The 1994 AW ban was based on cosmetic features, not capability. Leave it to Congress to fuck it up.

      I’ll keep mine for now. Uncle Sam certified me to work on nuclear weapons, complete with annual visits to the company shrink**, so what’s a plastic rifle or two? I think we need to raise the bar on anyone who owns one of these instruments of the devil beyond a simple background check. Maybe not the Human Reliability Program, but something commensurate with the risk to the public. Kinda like we do full auto stuff.

      ** They even passed me the year I showed up wearing an actual tinfoil hat and carrying a box called a black hole detector. I had the psych nurse falling out of her chair laughing.

      • DownhillBill Says:

        Well, I think I would have paid to see that! We never had resident shrinks, but we did have the occasional polygraph, at least until Ted Kennedy killed that. FWIW, those things are absolutely NOT lie detectors. Stress detectors, sure. And I never met a polygrapher who complied with state law, or who didn’t lie to me.

        • khal spencer Says:

          Yep, at one point I got tired of it all. So when I walked in, and it was back when the Europeans were getting the superconducting supercollider up and running (hence the joke about the Europeans making black holes) there were five or six of the Pro Force guards sitting there waiting for their head shrinking and they looked…alarmed. The psych nurse fell out of her chair. We scientists were held to a different standard.

          I had to take a polygraph for my first clearance application and it seemed kinda goofy. As you say, it measures stress, so a good liar can beat it, as a friend of mine, a Ph.D. brain physiologist used to say. I have always been a terrible liar. My mom had me convinced that she could see lies in my eyes with little neon lights blinking from my brain and I believed her. Of course, she was probably right. As my company shrink once said after an annual evaluation, “Khal, don’t take this the wrong way, but you are more honest than most people on these psych exams”.

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