Monday Reads: Guns Galore and Other NewsPosted: February 4, 2013
The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl, 34-31. I completely ignored it, so I didn’t see any of the commercials or the game. I did find this review of the commercials at the WaPo. I’m very happy for Ravens fans though–especially Janicen. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s see what else is going on in the news.
I’m sure everyone has heard about the Navy Seal sniper who was shot in by a marine he may have been trying to help. The NYT reports:
From his perch in hide-outs above battle-scarred Iraq, Chris Kyle earned a reputation as one of America’s deadliest military snipers. The Pentagon said his skills with a rifle so terrorized Iraqi insurgents during his four tours of duty that they nicknamed him the “Devil of Ramadi” and put a bounty on his head.
The insurgents never collected, and he returned home to become a best-selling author and a mentor to other veterans, sometimes taking them shooting at a gun range near his Texas home as a kind of therapy to salve battlefield scars, friends said. One such veteran was Eddie Ray Routh, a 25-year-old Marine who had served tours in Iraq and Haiti.
But on Saturday, far from a war zone, Mr. Routh turned on Mr. Kyle, 38, and a second man, Chad Littlefield, 35, shortly after they arrived at an exclusive shooting range near Glen Rose, Tex., about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth, law enforcement authorities said Sunday. The officials said that for reasons that were still unclear, Mr. Routh shot and killed both men with a semiautomatic handgun before fleeing in a pickup truck belonging to Mr. Kyle.
“Chad and Chris had taken a veteran out to shoot to try to help him,” said Travis Cox, a friend of Mr. Kyle’s. “And they were killed.”
I’m sorry about these two meaningless murders, but I’m mystified as to why anyone would want to read a book about someone who shot hundreds of people from a distance in Iraq. Supposedly they were “insurgents,” but who really knows? All those innocent people at Gitmo and dead civilians in Pakistan suggest to me that the U.S. military isn’t so great at separating civilians from combatants.
I’m even more mystified as to why taking someone with PTSD from serving in Iraq and Haiti to a gun range for therapy would be a good idea. Anyway, I don’t mean to judge, just my two cents.
According to the Dallas News, Routh became aggressive in jail and was tasered by guards.
After eating dinner, Routh refused to return his food tray to jailers. He became aggressive and tried to attack them when they tried to get it back from him, said Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant.
Jailers tasered Routh and placed him in a restraining chair in his solitary cell. He is on suicide watch, Bryant said….Routh, a former Marine and Iraqi War veteran, is believed to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Investigators say that he shot Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield at point-blank range around 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Please note Routh used a semi-automatic handgun to shoot the Kyle and Littlefield. Wayne LaPierre is outraged that there was no “good guy” with a bigger gun around to protect them. Sorry, I made that up.
Speaking of Crazy Wayne, he was on Fox News Sunday yesterday, and he managed to be so outrageous that Chris Wallace told him he was being “ridiculous.” From Business Insider:
Fox News host Chris Wallace and NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre got into a heated exchange on “Fox News Sunday” this morning, as Wallace challenged LaPierre on a controversial ad involving President Barack Obama’s daughters.
Wallace played the clip of the ad, which called Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for sending his children to a school with armed protection while opposing it for other schools. (That ad has actually been proven false.)
Wallace asked LaPierre if he regretted putting up the ad. He avoided the question and said the point of the ad was “not to pick on the President’s kids.”
Here’s the most contentious exchange:
LAPIERRE: The President’s kids are safe, and we’re all thankful for that.
WALLACE: They also face a threat that most people do not face.
LAPIERRE: Tell that to the people in Newtown! Tell that to the people in Newtown.
WALLACE: Do you really think that the President’s children are the same kind of target as every schoolchild in America? I think that’s ridiculous, and you know it, sir.
Here’s the video of the interview:
It seems as if the entire gun safety debate has boiled down to a huge argument over the AR-15 rifle. What is it about that gun anyway? The New York Times has a very long read about it headlined The AR-15: The Most Wanted Gun in America.
THE phone rings again at Pasadena Pawn and Gun, and a familiar question comes down the line: “Got any ARs?”
The answer is no. Pasadena Pawn and Gun, a gun retailer and pawnshop 15 miles south of Baltimore, is pretty much sold out of America’s most wanted gun, the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. Since the massacre in Newtown, Conn., in December, the AR-15, the military-style weapon that the police say was used in the shootings, has been selling fast here and across the nation.
Before Newtown, the rifles sold for about $1,100, on average. Now some retailers charge twice that. At Pasadena Pawn, on the wall behind glass counters of handguns, are three dozen or so AR-15-style rifles. Dangling from nearly every one is a tag that says “Sold.”
Is that sick or what? Basically, the gun has become a fashion statement–like an expensive handbag or pair of shoes.
“The AR-15, it’s kind of fashionable,” says Frank Loane Sr., the proprietor. His shop has a revolving waiting list for the rifles, and a handful of people are now on it. “The young generation likes them, the assault-looking guns.”
Sick. I don’t know how else to react to that.
As everyone knows, the White House released a photo of President Obama shooting a gun–supposedly he was skeet shooting at Camp David–in response to demands from wingnuts like Marsha Blackburn.
Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, expressed doubt about Obama’s skeet shooting.
“You know, if you don’t have the photos, if this is not something that’s a new hobby, then I think he should invite me out to Camp David and I’ll challenge him,” Blackburn said on CNN, according to a transcript.
Why bother? These people will never believe it anyway. They’ve seen Obama’s birth certificate and they still think he was born in Kenya. Once the photo came out there was a rapid response from the right wing. The picture must have been photoshopped…and besides, Obama is holding the gun wrong for skeet shooting, and so on. Andre Tartar at New York Magazine collected some of the many conspiracy theories for your reading pleasure. Check them out at the link.
Here’s something interesting for the conspiracy theorists to chew on. Obama has talked about practicing shooting before. In September 2010, McClatchy reported that Obama told some NCAA champion sharpshooters about it.
Obama spoke briefly to the 650 student athletes from 32 schools, praising them for being students and athletes. “You didn’t do it as professionals,” he said. “You put in countless hours of practice for the love of the game and for the pride of your school.”
As the president worked the rope line, shaking hands and talking to many of the students, he reached the TCU team — who stood out in their black dresses and matching purple and black TCU cowboy boots….
Obama told the TCU team that he, too, practiced shooting with a rifle. “He said he practiced with the Secret Service,” said [Simone] Riford, who graduated from TCU in May and now works in Fort Worth.
Guns and shooting. Geeze, I’m sick and tired of hearing and reading about them, and now I’ve spend half of this post on them. Still, I can’t resist just one more gun story: Man accidentally shoots himself in Eugene cafe bathroom; The victim had been wearing the weapon in a holster.
A 26-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the thigh when his pistol went off as he used the restroom on the second floor of an Internet cafe in downtown Eugene on Thursday afternoon.
The man, a Eugene area resident whose name was not released by police, was taken by ambulance to a hospital. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
The man was openly carrying his gun in a holster on his leg, which is legal, a police spokeswoman said.
The story doesn’t say if he was standing up or sitting down when the gun went off. At least he missed his penis. It was awfully nice of the police to keep his identity a secret, but someone is bound to talk eventually.
In other news,
Mitt Romney might be interested in this obituary from the Wall Street Journal: Etch A Sketch Inventor Dies at 86.
BRYAN, Ohio—André Cassagnes, inventor of the Etch A Sketch toy that generations of children drew on, shook up and started over on, has died in France, the toy’s maker said. He was 86 years old.
Mr. Cassagnes died on Jan. 16 in a Paris suburb the Ohio Art Co., based in Bryan in northwest Ohio, said on Saturday….Mr. Cassagnes, an electrical technician, came upon the Etch A Sketch idea in the late 1950s when he peeled a translucent decal from a light switchplate and found pencil-mark images transferred to the opposite face, the Toy Industry Association said.
Ohio Art saw his idea at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in 1959. The toy, with its gray screen, red frame and two white knobs that are twisted back and forth to create drawings, was launched in 1960 and became the top seller that holiday season. More than 100 million have been sold world-wide since then.
Dakikat has written about the search for Richard the III’s body before, but CNN has an interesting long read about it that is well worth checking out. I don’t think I can do it justice with an except, so click on the link if you’re interested.
The Guardian published a very interesting article about a study of the brain of people who don’t feel the emotion of fear.
The patient known as S.M. has not experienced fear since she was a child, and has fascinated brain researchers for many years. Several years ago, one team noted that she makes risky financial decisions in experimental economics games, because she isn’t afraid of losing money. Another tried everything they could to frighten the life out of her – but failed. They showed her clips from some of scariest horror films ever made, asked her to handle large spiders and snakes, and took her to haunted house. On no occasion did she show the smallest sign of fear, even when faced with traumatic events and potentially life-threatening threats.
Now in her mid-forties, S.M. is one of fewer than 300 people to be diagnosed with Urbach-Wiethe disease, a genetic condition that causes a brain structure called the amygdala to gradually harden up and shrivel away. This small, almond-shaped bundle of neurons, located deep within the brain on the inner surface of the temporal lobe, plays an important role in emotions, and is thought to be an essential component of the brain’s fear circuit.
But researchers finally found something that triggered some fearful feelings: breathing in carbon dioxide.
Inhaling carbon dioxide makes most people gasp for breath and can cause panic attacks, and this response is also thought to involve the amygdala. Justin Feinstein of the University of Iowa and his colleagues therefore reasoned that people with amygdala damage would not react in this way. To test this prediction, they asked S.M., two identical twin sisters with Urbach-Wiethe disease, and 12 healthy controls to inhale the gas through a mask. And to their surprise, the brain-damaged patients became fearful and panicky immediately after inhalation, even more so than the participants with intact brains.
The study clearly shows that the amygdala is not needed for the fearful response to carbon dioxide, or even for sensing the gas in the first place. It seems to be far more important for responses to threats from the outside world. The stimuli signalling a threat of suffocation – an increase in blood acidity – come from inside the body instead.
“The findings don’t allow us to speak about the exact brain areas responsible for the patients’ preserved experience of fear,” says Feinstein, “but we are in the process of examining this further using functional neuroimaging.” He suspects that parts of the brainstem, which controls breathing and other involuntary behaviours, and the insular cortex, which is involved in bodily awareness, may play an important role in generating the response.
Connie passed along this article about Henry Wallace, who served as FDR’s Vice President for four years but has now been almost forgotten.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, only FDR eclipsed Wallace – Roosevelt’s secretary of agriculture (1933-1940) and then his vice president (1941-1944) – in popularity with the American people. Stone’s documentary series and book portray Wallace as a true American hero, a “visionary” on both domestic and foreign policy. Today, however, Wallace is a mostly forgotten figure. If Stone’s work helps restore Wallace’s rightful place in our history and piques the curiosity of younger Americans to learn more about this fascinating person, it will have served an important purpose.
Wallace almost became the nation’s president. In 1940, he was FDR’s running mate and served as his vice president for four years. But in 1944, against the advice of the Democratic Party’s progressives and liberals – including his wife Eleanor – FDR reluctantly allowed the party’s conservative, pro-business and segregationist wing to replace Wallace with Sen. Harry Truman as the vice presidential candidate, a move that Stone calls the “greatest blunder” of Roosevelt’s career. Had Wallace remained as vice president, he would have become president when FDR died in April 1945.
Wallace opposed the cold war, the arms race with the Soviet Union and racial segregation. He was a strong advocate of labor unions, national health insurance, public works jobs and women’s equality. He would have been, without question, the most radical president in American history. He would have served out the remaining three years of FDR’s fourth term and certainly would have sought to be elected on his own in 1948.
Makes you wonder what might have happened if history had taken a different turn.