Thursday Reads: Have We Lost The Fight Against Gun Violence?

Good Afternoon!!

Bather and her dog in the waves, Kees Von Dongen

Bather and her dog in the waves, Kees Von Dongen

Sadly, we’ve learned to expect mass shootings on a regular basis in this country. Americans are no longer safe from gunfire in schools, supermarkets, malls, movie theaters, music festivals, churches, mosques, and temples.

Over the past few days, we’ve learned that it can be dangerous to make mistakes like knocking on the wrong door, turning into the wrong driveway, opening the door of a that you mistook for your own, or even accidentally letting the ball you and your child are playing with roll into a neighbor’s yard.

Will this nightmare ever end? It sure doesn’t look that way.

The New York Times: Hundreds of Miles Apart, Separate Shootings Follow Wrong Turns.

Hundreds of miles apart, the two men stood in courtrooms, accused of shooting at someone who had made a wrong turn.

In a courthouse in Fort Edward, N.Y., Kevin Monahan, 65, was denied bail on Wednesday in a case where prosecutors say he fatally shot Kaylin Gillis, 20, after she and a group of friends mistakenly drove up his driveway while looking for another friend’s house.

In a small courtroom in Liberty, Mo., Andrew D. Lester, 84, carried a cane as he pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in the shooting of Ralph Yarl, 16, who had come to Mr. Lester’s door mistakenly thinking it was the address where his younger siblings were waiting to be picked up.

The two shootings were among recent cases involving gun attacks on individuals who were simply lost, or had seemingly made a minor misstep during an everyday task. On Tuesday, in Elgin, Texas, two teenage cheerleaders were shot just after midnight after apparently trying to get into the wrong car in a supermarket parking lot. The police said Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., 25, was charged with deadly conduct, a felony.

Lester told authorities that he was “scared to death” when he saw Yarl outside his door. (Yarl is black and Lester is white).

Monahan’s lawyer claimed that Monahan saw “several vehicles speeding up his driveway.” The lawyer also said that Monahan “feels terrible that someone lost their life.” Right. He feels so terrible that police only arrested him after a “standoff.” See this story at the New York Post.

Back to the NYT article:

Neighbors said that Mr. Monahan, a self-employed builder and longtime resident whose home sits on about 40 mostly wooded acres, had a reputation as a sometimes surly character who loved dirt bikes and largely kept to himself….

Adam Matthews, who lives next to Mr. Monahan and has known him for decades, said his neighbor could be aggressive and intimidating. “He was a difficult guy,” Mr. Matthews recalled, adding he was “known to have altercations with people.”

Édouard Manet, Tama, the Japanese Dog (circa 1875).

Édouard Manet, Tama, the Japanese Dog (circa 1875).

He added that Mr. Monahan was “always concerned with trespassing” and that the wide opening of his driveway resembled a road to some drivers. At one point, he said, Mr. Monahan had draped a chain across the mouth of his driveway, though the chain was no longer there last weekend….

Mr. Lester lives in a modest beige house outfitted with surveillance cameras, though city data shows there is relatively little crime in his quiet neighborhood near the northern edge of Kansas City. Neighbors said that his wife was recently moved to a nursing home, leaving him alone in his house. He spent considerable time at home in a living room chair, watching conservative news programs at high volume, a relative said….

Klint Ludwig, a grandson, said in an interview that he and his grandfather used to be close. The two had become estranged in part, Mr. Ludwig said, because Mr. Lester had embraced right-wing conspiracy theories.

Mr. Lester used to tell his grandson about serving in the military decades ago, and recount stories of working as a mechanic in the airline industry. They celebrated holidays together with extended family who lived in the Kansas City area. Mr. Ludwig, who described himself as left wing, said that Mr. Lester kept a large number of firearms in his home, including rifles and handguns.

But at a family gathering during the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Ludwig said, Mr. Lester began sharing a conspiracy theory involving Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the infectious disease expert.

“I was like, ‘Man, this sounds crazy,’” recalled Mr. Ludwig, 28. “I told him it was ridiculous.”

The two have not had a relationship since, Mr. Ludwig said.

Lester’s former wife of 14 years told the NYT that their marriage was “troubled,” and that he was violent. “I was always scared of him,” she said.

I saw the grandson on CNN this morning, and he said that Lester watches Fox News all day long.

The Kansas City Star has an  interview with this grandson: ‘Fear and paranoia.’ Grandson says Andrew Lester bought into conspiracies, disinformation.

A grandson of the man charged with shooting a Black teen in Kansas City’s Northland last week said he was “appalled” and “disgusted” at his grandfather’s actions and is thankful Ralph Yarl is recovering.

“I was horrified. I thought it was terrible,” Klint Ludwig said of his immediate reaction to hearing about the shooting of the 16-year-old. “It was inexcusable. It was wrong.

Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Evening (1939).

Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Evening (1939).

“I stand with Ralph, and really want his family to achieve justice for what happened to them. Their child or grandchild or nephew’s life was fundamentally changed forever, over a mistake and someone being scared and fearful.” [….]

Ludwig, who lives in the Kansas City area, told The Star on Wednesday that he also was disgusted at the way authorities handled the case.

He was critical of the way both police and the Clay County prosecutor conducted the initial investigation, releasing Lester and not charging him after he was first brought in. “The only reason why he is now receiving charges and an investigation is being held was because of community outreach to bring attention to this,” Ludwig said. “The response has been great. It’s been amazing to see this solidarity and coming together as a community.”

On the Fox News connection, Ludwig said he used to be close to his grandfather.

“But in the last five or six years or so, I feel like we’ve lost touch,” he said. “I’ve gotten older and gained my own political views, and he’s become staunchly right-wing, further down the right-wing rabbit hole as far as doing the election-denying conspiracy stuff and COVID conspiracies and disinformation, fully buying into the Fox News, OAN kind of line. I feel like it’s really further radicalized him in a lot of ways.”

Ludwig said his grandfather had been immersed in “a 24-hour news cycle of fear and paranoia.”

“And then the NRA pushing the ‘stand your ground’ stuff and that you have to defend your home,” he said. “When I heard what happened, I was appalled and shocked that it transpired, but I didn’t disbelieve that it was true. The second I heard it, I was like, ‘Yeah, I could see him doing that.’”

The Washington Post on the cheerleader story: Cheerleaders leaving practice were shot after one got in wrong car, teen says.

Two Texas cheerleaders were shot, and one of them critically injured, early Tuesday after one girl mistakenly got into the wrong car in a grocery store parking lot, she said.

The Elgin, Tex., shooting is the third headline-making incident in less than a week in which someone was shot while approaching a person they apparently did not know.


Edvard Munch, St. Bernard Dog

Elgin police responded to reports of gunshots outside an H-E-B supermarket at 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, authorities said in a news release. They arrested and charged Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., 25, with deadly conduct, a third-degree felony, in what they called “an altercation … in the parking lot of HEB” in which “multiple shots were fired into a vehicle.”

One of the victims was identified by a coach as Payton Washington, an 18-year-old high school senior and cheerleader for the Round Rock Independent School District, near Austin. Washington “sustained serious injuries” when she was shot in the back and one leg, police said. She was transported to a hospital by helicopter and is in critical condition, they said. A GoFundMe for Washington says she is “stable in the ICU and will have a long road to recovery.”

The other cheerleader struck by gunfire, Heather Roth, suffered a graze wound on one of her legs and was released from the scene of the shooting, authorities said.

At a Tuesday night vigil shared to Instagram Live, Roth said she and three other cheerleaders with Woodlands Elite Cheer Co. had just completed their Monday night practice when they arrived at the H-E-B parking lot, which their carpool used. When Roth got into a car she thought was a friend’s, she realized that a man was in the passenger seat and quickly got out, she said. After Roth got into her friend’s car, she said, she saw Rodriguez approach and rolled down her window to apologize….

“He pulled out a gun, and then he just started shooting at all of us,” Roth said, according to KHOU, an CBS affiliate in Houston. She added, “Payton opens the door, and she starts throwing up blood.”

And another one from CNN: He started shooting when a basketball rolled into his yard, neighbors said. Now, a manhunt is on as a 6-year-old and her dad recover.

A manhunt is underway near Charlotte, North Carolina, for a man who reportedly shot and seriously wounded his 6-year-old neighbor and her dad when a basketball rolled into his yard.

Robert Louis Singletary, 24, should be considered armed and dangerous, Gaston County Police said. He’s 6-foot-2 and about 223 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.

Two-poodles-1891., Pierre Bonnard

Two-poodles,1891, by Pierre Bonnard

The shooting began after kids had been “playing basketball, and a ball had rolled down that way and had rolled into the yard and they went to go get it,” neighbor Jonathan Robertson told CNN affiliate WBTV.

“We never expected anybody would break a gun out amongst all those kids,” he said. “I mean that was insane.”

The 6-year-old girl said she was shot in the cheek and described to WBTV her understanding of what happened.

“I couldn’t get inside in time so he shot my daddy in the back,” she said.

The incident was another case this week alone in which young people were shot after seemingly ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, including two teen cheerleaders mistakenly approaching someone else’s vehicle in a Texas grocery store parking lot, a 16-year-old who rang the wrong doorbell in Kansas City and a 20-year-old who turned into the wrong New York driveway.

The shootings reflect the consequences of a country with more civilian guns than people, according to the Small Arms Survey, and the toxic stew of fear, paranoia and distrust that influences so many and leads to violence.

William White, the father of the child is in the hospital with “serious injuries.”

I suppose these types of shootings have happened in the past, but now they are being highlighted because four of them happened in over a brief time period. Mass shootings are seem to be happening more frequently too.

CNN: There were seven mass shootings on Saturday – the most of any day this year.

The number of mass shootings in the United States on Saturday was higher than on any other day so far in 2023, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit that tracks US gun-related violence.

They spanned across six states, killing at least 10 people. The most deadly was in Alabama, where a shooter targeted a Sweet 16 party, killing four people between the ages of 17 and 23, and injuring an additional 28. Another two people were killed in a shooting at a park in Louisville, Kentucky, where the community was still reeling from a mass shooting at a bank on April 10.

Both CNN and GVA define a “mass shooting” as a shooting that injured or killed four or more people, not including the shooter.

Before this weekend, the most mass shootings on any day this year was New Year’s Day, which saw six mass shootings, according to GVA.

But seven mass shootings in one day is not the highest this country has seen in recent years. Over each Fourth of July weekend between 2020-2022, there was at least one day with mass shootings in the double digits.

In 2020, the 15 mass shootings that occurred across 13 states on July 5 made for the highest number of mass shootings in one day since 2013, according to GVA.

There have been more mass shootings than days so far this year and more shootings than at this point in any year since at least 2013.

I hate to say this, but it really looks like we’ve lost the battle to stop gun violence. There are so many guns out there. How will we ever reverse this trend? I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’ll see an end to this in my lifetime. And we can blame the NRA, the Supreme Court and yes, Fox News. Please convince me I’m wrong. This next article makes me want to slit my wrists, but I’m afraid Brynn Tannehill may be right, even though I hope and pray she’s wrong.


Bather with a Griffon dog Lise on the bank of the seine, Pierre Auguste Renoir

Brynn Tannehill at The New Republic: The Grim Truth: The War on Guns Is Lost. There are more unregistered guns in this country than are possessed by the Pentagon, DHS, and police departments combined. And Republicans want more of them.

I wrote this article long before the latest mass shooting that just happened, this time in Louisville, Kentucky, because we all know the pattern, and it never changes. There’s a mass shooting and dead innocents, often children. Angry calls for Republicans to do something, and nothing gets done. The incident fades from the 24-hour news cycle, and we resume the waiting game for the next one. It’s Sisyphus with a boulder that rolls downhill and crushes him over and over for eternity.

That’s something that people who support gun control measures need to understand: The war is lost. There is no conceivable way for things to change for the better within the next 20 to 30 years, short of a national divorce. There is no way to change hearts and minds of Republicans or the courts. There is no way to change who is in office in most states. There is no way to replace who sits on the courts quickly or change conservative disdain for stare decisis.

In reality, mass shootings will only become more and more common over the next few years as Republicans have decided that the only solution to gun violence is adding as many guns as possible to the mix.

At the state level, gerrymandering ensures that red states will never put in place elected representatives who would pass gun control. With the primary system as it is, there is zero chance that Republican primaries in these states would suddenly start producing candidates who would support limiting access to guns, much less taking away assault rifles.

In blue states, they already know that there is no hope that the courts will uphold the laws they pass. The Supreme Court effectively overturned the California law that limited magazine size, after ruling in 2022 that states can do little to prevent anyone from buying a gun in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The conservative Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans, ruled in 2023 that the Second Amendment prevents the government from taking guns from people under restraining orders for committing domestic violence. Nor is the government allowed to prevent them from buying guns.

Some Republicans still want to pretend that they’re engaging with the subject seriously: blaming mental health issues, video games, lack of prayer in schools, and transgender people for mass shootings. But this is simply a distraction: Other countries have all those things, but they don’t have mass shootings. The United States is the only country where people have such ready access to hundreds of millions of firearms, and we are the only country where mass shootings happen with such grim regularity….

Short of a national divorce, there is nothing that can be done at this point. Mass shootings, and the accompanying piles of dead bodies, are as American as Mom and apple pie. Continuing to pretend that our current system can fix this is tantamount to accepting the status quo. This is going to upset a lot of people and make them angry. I could be wrong; I’m not a psychic. However, no one has proposed a plausible way to get meaningful gun reform through. It’s not for lack of trying either: Every effort for the past decade has failed despite public outcry after each horrific mass shooting. If there was a way, someone would have already found it. But the truth hurts when it means changing your whole worldview: that the war is lost, and your country cannot be saved from not only what it has become but what it chooses to be.

Read the rest at the link if you can stand it.

There is a lot more news happening today, so please share links to stories on any topic that interests you. Take care and stay safe everyone.

31 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Have We Lost The Fight Against Gun Violence?”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Another one from The New Republic by a former Republican who wants to repeal the Second Amendment.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    I agree that we have lost the battle over gun control. How can we not see that when it is a fact that there are more guns out there than people.

    Most gun buyers today say they do so for protection. Not so. Many buy them for the opportunity to use them. Any little grievance seems good enough to whip out the weapon and fire away. The last few days have borne that out.

    Someone drives onto your driveway? Shoot them. Someone rings your doorbell? Shoot them. Someone gets into the wrong car. Shoot them. Someone jogs down your street? Shoot them. Someone resists arrest over a traffic stop? Shoot them.

    We hate each other. We are fearful of the color of someone’s skin. We go after drag queens, gays, political opponents, healthcare workers, election volunteers, abortion providers, anyone who dares to speak out or criticize our beliefs. We are armed and ready for combat 24/7 and will invade churches, schools, hospitals, grocery stores, movie theaters, bars, restaurants, and anywhere a group of people are assembled to prove our point.

    You don’t buy an assault weapon to stick it in a drawer. You buy it to use it. And it doesn’t take much to find the opportunity to aim it once it is in your possession.
    Why else spend that much money on something unless you can fully appreciate its potential?

    We are consumed with hatred. We no longer dialogue. There is a “something” for everybody out there that needs to be shot. We are killing ourselves but we don’t much care. The weapon of mass destruction is all we need to make that “something” go away.

  3. dakinikat says:

    I have a lot of conversations with friends about how our fathers turned into people we didn’t know after watching Fox News. Fox makes them angry, resentful, and ready to do something drastic based on falsehoods. I now see men my age, whom I used to think I knew, act the same way. Fox weaponizes hate and lies. Seriously, they should be charged as accomplices to these crimes. Tucker Carlson should be named in every one of these crimes. He’s the absolute worst. He’s not in the news business any more than Alec Jones is/was/whatever.

    • quixote says:

      I’ve also seen anecdotal reports that when relatives manage to surreptitiously make it impossible to get Fox, by whatever means necessary, then in a few months, the hypnotized return to normal.

      If it was heroin that created that kind of brainwashing the shrieking to regulate it would reach to Mars.

      • dakinikat says:

        My sister and I would take turns watching baseball and football with Dad and have him call the plays like he did when we were little. It kept him off of Fox enough for him to cool off.

  4. quixote says:

    One point I’ve heard made by good strategists is to approach gun control by the money angle.

    Gun manufacture is the only industry where the producers have no, zero, liability for what their products do. (Bernie Sanders was one of the geniuses who voted for that, together with Repubs.) Liability laws could be brought into conformity with other industries. (Yes, the Repub gun cabal fights this like demons possessed.)

    Another angle is that at this point they could give every single bullet a chemical fingerprint and trace its entire history back to production. (Yes, they fight this like demons etc etc.) Put that together with liability laws for being an accessory to crimes such as shooting six year olds trying to pick up a basketball and maybe lots of people would suddenly find that “not my problem” doesn’t work any more.

    You wouldn’t even have to mention the Second Amendment.

    • NW Luna says:

      WA state just passed a bill holding gunmakers liable. Yesterday I posted a tweet about this late in the Weds thread.

      If we assume we’ve already lost, we give up. There is being some progress made and we need to keep working.

      The Washington law would block the sale, distribution, manufacture and importation of more than 50 gun models, including AR-15s, AK-47s and similar rifles. These guns fire one bullet per trigger pull and automatically reload for a subsequent shot. Some exemptions are included for sales to law enforcement agencies and the military in Washington. The measure does not bar the possession of the weapons by people who already have them.

      The law would go into effect immediately once it’s signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who has long advocated for such a ban. When the bill passed the state House in March, Inslee said he’s believed it [the ban] since 1994 when, as a member of the U.S. Congress, he voted to make the ban a federal law.

      After the bill passed, Inslee said the state of Washington “will not accept gun violence as normal.”

      Inslee said lives will be saved because of the ban and two other measures approved by the Legislature this session: one that introduced a 10-day waiting period for gun purchases and another to hold gunmakers liable for negligent sales.

      Nine states including California, New York and Massachusetts, along with the District of Columbia, have already passed similar bans, and the laws have been upheld as constitutional by the courts, according to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I saw that and I was surprised WA. didn’t already have a ban. It’s great news. Of course I don’t think we should give up. But it is an uphill battle. MA has had an assault weapons ban for decades, but the guns come in from Vermont, where there are zero gun laws.

        In addition, an out of state group is currently suing to get the law declared unconstitutional. As Quixote often says, “endless screaming.”

        • dakinikat says:

          The eastern part of Washington is full of whackos. It’s just Seattle and Tacoma outnumber them.

          • NW Luna says:

            It’s the rural areas and small towns for the most part, whether western or eastern Washington, I’m afraid.

        • NW Luna says:

          WA already had more restrictive gun laws than most states. This is the first they’ve been able to pass on the AR-15 type weapons though. Some cities have passed laws limitingtype of weapon and limits on ammunition which can be sold. That resulted in several gun stores moving out of Seattle a few years back. Yeah, the problem just gets pushed out to the rural areas and the neighboring states. I bet Idaho is gun-friendly.

          • roofingbird says:

            Idaho tends toward the extremist. When my daughter lived in Sandpoint they were just a few miles from the Aryan Nations. White nationalism is strong and bleeds over into Spokane, where she now lives. So, I’m for anything that slaps it in the face.

      • quixote says:

        Good to see that about the WA state liability laws! If places like CA follow suit suddenly a huge minority of people is covered by those laws and it becomes impractical for the gunrunners to keep running guns.

    • bostonboomer says:

      How do we get the millions of guns that are already in circulation off the streets? I think the 2nd Amendment should be repealed, but that won’t happen.

  5. NW Luna says:

    Nice dog pictures, BB!

  6. roofingbird says:

    Guns are an opioid and the pushers, ubiquitous.
    Re: the old men, Hubby has dementia, and I catch him regularly watching old videos/TV talking heads bashing the former guy. It makes for interesting discussions, but he has me and the kids to talk to for perspective and time relevance. The desire to organize and understand gets stronger, even as he is losing those skills. Apparently it is now possible to detect possible Alzheimer’s in the fifties, with things like tests for homocysteine levels, and of course gene testing. Looking back, I think there were markers of possibility all those thirty years ago. That knowledge would have changed my perspective on what was happening in my life.

    • quixote says:

      That is so tough, roofingbird.

      Re the markers: still no cure, so I’m not sure I’d have the courage to get the tests, no matter how good they are. Plus re early signs (not the actual markers), some of them can be awfully similar to just aging. The big difference being that the “mere” aging ones progress very slowly. Anyway, just to say I’ve wondered hard whether knowing early would be better or worse.

      • roofingbird says:

        Thanks. So regarding the homocysteine, apparently, high levels can also indicate potential cardiac or thyroid issues, depression, etc. It’s wide ranging and can indicate an inadequacy of Vitamin D and some B’s. So, there could be value in testing anyway.

        There naturally is a LOT of fear over dementia and it isn’t pretty. What strikes me though, is how herded we are. It appears that there are some private insurance exclusions(though I haven’t checked) for long term care, etc. where Alzheimer’s might be predetermined by a gene test.

        I don’t imply that these shooters were anything but sane. However, in the first phase of cognitive impairment, a fully formed adult will do things too protect themselves and others, ie.stop driving, give up their guns, make plans and live their life. Because, as short term memory dissolves and old tapes persist longer, they are going to have to revisit childhood experiences, many of which might not be pleasant. between that and loss of executive function, fear happens. That is isn’t aging, it’s a disease.