Mostly Monday Reads: The American Gun Fetish

Madonna with a Machine Gun, Kārlis Padegs, 1932

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m not exactly sure how the connection from being your basic angry, miserable guy turned into being your basic angry, miserable guy who goes out to kill a bunch of people developed in this country.   It seems to be a feature today, and it’s a bad one.  The Colorado Springs shooter is a prime example of what happens when law enforcement ignores red laws, and a community stirs hate and resentment towards a minority community. It’s hard to feel safe anyway with that kind of shitpot stirred vigorously by right-wing politicians and more than a few churches.

The Q Club Shooting in Colorado is not the first of its kind.  It will not be the last of its kind, given the current political and social environment we’re enduring right now. “Club Q shooting follows year of bomb threats, drag protests, anti-trans bills. Right-wing demonstrators have increasingly mobilized over the past year against the LGBTQ community, experts say.” This analysis was written by Casey Parks for The Washington Post.

In the hours after the shooting, investigators did not say what led someone to open fire Saturday night in a Colorado gay bar, killing at least five people and injuring 25 others. But LGBTQ advocates across the country believe a surge of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and laws is at least partially to blame.

“When politicians and pundits keep perpetuating tropes, insults, and misinformation about the trans and LGBTQ+ community, this is a result,” Colorado Rep. Brianna Titone (D) tweeted Sunday.

Titone, Colorado’s first openly trans legislator, and the chair of the state’s LGBTQ legislative caucus, said anti-LGBTQ lawmakers, including one of her colleagues, have used hateful rhetoric to directly incite attacks against LGBTQ people.

Though the most recent FBI data shows the number of hate crimes against LGBTQ people remained relatively flat between 2008 and 2020, an independent analysis by the research group Crowd Counting Consortium shows that right-wing demonstrators have increasingly mobilized over the past year against the LGBTQ community.

Already this year, armed protesters and right-wing groups such as the Proud Boys have used intimidating tactics to disrupt drag-related events in TexasNevada and Oregon, as well as other states. Children’s hospitals across the United States are facing growing threats of violence, including bomb threats, driven by an online anti-LGBTQ campaign attacking the facilities for providing care to transgender kids and teens. And in October, a man attacked a transgender librarian in Idaho before yelling homophobic slurs and attempting to hit two women with his car. Idaho is one of 18 states that does not have hate crime protections for LGBTQ people, though many local law enforcement agencies still track those crimes.

Every year, at every event that celebrates this beloved community in New Orleans, the most fanatical white evangelical men that are angry and miserable goosestep into town. I guess they have to find something else to do with their time since there’s now a limited number of women’s clinics for them to stalk.

According to Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, the executive director of the National Center of Transgender Equality, a quarter of those violent deaths happened in Texas and Florida. Those states have proposed dozens of anti-trans laws and regulations in the past two years or put in place anti-trans policies, such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to investigate parents for child abuse if they provide gender-affirming care for their children.

“Anti-trans legislation, fearmongering, and disinformation put the trans community and trans lives at risk,” Heng-Lehtinen tweeted.

If I have been quieter than usual this weekend, it’s because of this, although I’m not on campus this semester.

This followed today.

Master of Calamarca, Archangel with Gun, Asiel Timor Dei, before 1728

I suppose I should be thankful that the Campus police are actual police with all the authority of the New Orleans Police Department. They knew what to do and prevented it. So here is what the news is reporting.  This is from a message from UNO President John Nicklow.

“I want to provide you with more details on the reason for today’s campus closure. Last week, a former student entered a classroom and acted in an erratic and disruptive manner. Once this was reported to the UNO Department of Public Safety, our officers responded immediately and began an investigation into the individual, which led to a confirmation of suspicious activity. Our officers discovered a video posted Friday on one of the suspect’s social media accounts, showing him purchasing an assault style rifle at a gun store. Additional photographs of him brandishing the firearm were posted across the suspect’s social media accounts. It was at this point that multi-agency surveillance of the suspect began and continued throughout the weekend. The suspect’s off-campus location was continuously monitored, and thus no imminent threat to campus existed. We were not able to share this information with you until now because it would have compromised the investigation.

“The UNO Department of Public Safety worked closely with the New Orleans Police Department’s Intelligence Division, Violent Offender Warrant Squad (VOWS) and the 3rd Police District to secure arrest warrants for Terrorizing, Stalking and Unlawful Disruption of the Operation of a School. The New Orleans Police Department’s Intelligence Division and U.S. Marshals Task Force conducted a joint operation during the overnight hours with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, which arrested the suspect without incident. The suspect is in custody and no longer poses a potential threat to the UNO community or the larger community.

Information about the shooter in Colorado Springs is turning into a rather sordid, creepy tail.  This is from Heavy.  His mother’s father is a Maga State Senator in California who praised the January 6 Insurrection. The shooter was known to the police, and his mother thought he had mental health issues.  The Shooter did not have a social media presence, but the mother did.

Online records show Aldrich living at an apartment complex address in Colorado Springs. Online records indicate he shares that address with his mother, Laura Voepel, 44, who works as a support engineer and previously lived in California.

Laura has praised her father, outgoing California state Representative Randy Voepel, in Facebook posts, writing, “Keep up the work Dad~~ You work hard to improve our lives and a lot of us take notice.”

On Aldrich’s birthday, Laura Voepel wrote on Facebook, “My boys 15 birthday! He got head to toe (6’3″) ghillie military suit ànd he is surfing cloud 9.” She tagged her mother, Pamela Pullen, in the post, who Ancestry.com records confirm is Randy’s ex-wife.

Heavy was not able to find any social media profiles for Aldrich. But Facebook posts made by his mother reveal he had been dealing with mental health issues. She posted often about her son in a Facebook group for women involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Colorado Springs area.

In one post in July 2021, she asked for help finding a criminal defense attorney: “Hello Sisters. Does anyone know of a fantastic defense attorney? I ask this with a heavy heart but my family really needs some help at this time. We have cash to retain good counsel. Thank you.” Her post about needing a criminal defense attorney came just after her son was arrested.

Boy with a Flintlock Rifle, 1817, Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun

The police and criminal justice response to his arrest for threatening his mother with a possible bomb were underwhelming, to say the least. This is from ABC News.  “Gay club shooting suspect evaded Colorado’s red flag gun law. The suspect in the Colorado Springs gay nightclub shooting allegedly threatened his mother with a homemade bomb last year.”

A year and a half before he was arrested in the Colorado Springs gay nightclub shooting that left five people dead, Anderson Lee Aldrich allegedly threatened his mother with a homemade bomb, forcing neighbors in surrounding homes to evacuate while the bomb squad and crisis negotiators talked him into surrendering.

Yet despite that scare, there’s no public record that prosecutors moved forward with felony kidnapping and menacing charges against Aldrich, or that police or relatives tried to trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law that would have allowed authorities to seize the weapons and ammo the man’s mother says he had with him.

Gun control advocates say Aldrich’s June 2021 threat is an example of a red flag law ignored, with potentially deadly consequences. While it’s not clear the law could have prevented Saturday night’s attack — such gun seizures can be in effect for as little as 14 days and be extended by a judge in six-month increments — they say it could have at least slowed Aldrich and raised his profile with law enforcement.

“We need heroes beforehand — parents, co-workers, friends who are seeing someone go down this path,” said Colorado state Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting and sponsored the state’s red flag law passed in 2019. “This should have alerted them, put him on their radar.”

But the law that allows guns to be removed from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others has seldom been used in the state, particularly in El Paso County, home to Colorado Springs, where the 22-year-old Aldrich allegedly went into Club Q with a long gun at just before midnight and opened fire before he was subdued by patrons.

Gwenn Seemel, 2018, Terrorist

One year after killing two people and injuring another because he felt threatened by the bad libtards, manchild Kyle Rittenhouse is talking about running for Congress.  Who could forget his pudgy face and that poorly-acted crying jag? This is from The Chicago Tribune. ” One year after acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, the battle to define his public image rages on.”  Why does he have a public image, you may ask?  Well, he’s still a celeb in the right-wing gun-fetish Republican Party and talking about a run for Congress.

Rittenhouse was just 17 when he shot two men to death and wounded a third during a night of unrest in 2020 that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black.

Kenosha County prosecutors charged him with homicide but he claimed self-defense. At the end of a 15-day trial, jurors declared him not guilty.

His lead defense attorney told reporters at the time he hoped Rittenhouse would keep a low profile following the verdict, but that hasn’t happened. Despite initially expressing a reluctance to be “a cause person,” Rittenhouse has embraced the attention, becoming a figurehead in conservative politics and the gun rights movement.

“I’m just getting warmed up,” he told a critic on Twitter earlier this month. “Get comfortable.”

But while Rittenhouse promises to bring down the legal hammer on his detractors, he remains entangled in his own court proceedings. The family of Anthony Huber, one of the men Rittenhouse killed, is suing him and a host of Wisconsin law enforcement officials for allegedly conspiring to deprive Huber of his constitutional rights.

Rittenhouse’s attorneys filed papers in August trying to get him dismissed from the case, arguing among other things that a private detective who scoured the country for the teen delivered a summons to a home in Florida where Rittenhouse doesn’t actually live (the Tribune couldn’t reach Rittenhouse for comment, but his Twitter page gives his location as Texas).

A judge has yet to rule on the motion.

Rittenhouse and his backers are raising money for both legal fights. The Media Accountability Project, a Nevada-based LLC Rittenhouse introduced on the Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” is accepting donations “to hold the media accountable in court for their malicious lies, defamation and propaganda.”

The teen has also endorsed a video game called “Kyle Rittenhouse’s Turkey Shoot” that he said is meant to fund his lawsuits. Footage of the game, which is supposed to be released before Thanksgiving, shows an avatar that resembles Rittenhouse firing at “fake news turkeys.”

A GiveSendGo campaign is raising money for his defense in the Huber lawsuit, as is the National Foundation for Gun Rights, which depicts the case as a battle for the Second Amendment.

William Burroughs, Shooting Art

As for the Congressional run, this is from HuffPost. “Kyle Rittenhouse Meets With GOP House Caucus. The Kenosha shooter appeared to stoke his right-wing celebrity ambitions with a weird Capitol photo. “  Why wouldn’t you want to be called a shooter with this glam treatment?

Rittenhouse repeated his self-serving defense and held a question-and-answer session, The Hill reported. He has been hailed as a right-wing celebrity since the killings.

The caucus is chaired by Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). Rittenhouse posed for a photo with both of them, and with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

He also posed for a wild Twitter photo in front of the Capitol, writing: “T- 5 years until I can call this place my office?” Given Twitter’s meltdown, it was unclear whether it was an actual message, though his profile did have a “verified” blue check.

NBC has this analysis.  “How judges and state legislatures are making police officers and civilians less safe. As policymakers roll back gun laws, officers now have to worry that nearly every civilian has the means to use deadly force.” This opinion was written by By  and 

Earlier this month, a federal judge in Texas declared that it was unconstitutional to prohibit domestic abusers under a protective order from having a gun.

It’s one of the latest examples in a troubling trend initiated by the Supreme Court’s June ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which signaled the potential for a wave of court-mandated rollbacks of gun regulations. An oft-overlooked consequence of this is how relaxing gun laws prevents police officers from doing their jobs properly.

In Bruen, the court held New York’s licensing of handguns violated the Second Amendment. The state had required applicants for concealed carry permits to show “proper cause,” or, in other words, a specific need for a gun. As of the time of the ruling, six other jurisdictions — including Maryland, where one of us is from — had similar “proper cause” rules regulating gun carrying, all of which were imperiled by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

So far this year, officers have seized more than 2,200 guns illegally carried on the streets of Baltimore. Without Maryland’s gun licensing law, which relies on a proper cause standard, officers are left with a dangerously vague uncertainty about whether to approach someone carrying a gun to determine whether it is illegal or not — let alone remove the gun from the streets. This means police will be required to make more split-second decisions that risk tragic outcomes on both sides of the badge.

Four months after the Bruen ruling, a West Virginia judge invalidated part of a federal law prohibiting the possession of a firearm with an altered or removed serial number. Those serial numbers are critical to helping police solve crimes and distinguish responsible gun owners from violent criminals.

As the tide moves in the direction of more guns on the streets and fewer regulations, police chiefs are the first to point out that this trend makes their jobs more difficult and puts officers at a higher risk of injury or death. That danger extends to everyone in the community — children, the elderly and passersby on the street.

Rather than reserving their firearms for the most dangerous situations, law enforcement officers now have to worry that nearly every civilian has the means to use deadly force. Tensions will rise, and trust will decline.

My first duel [frog with gun]

I must admit that staying in my home, teaching from my home, and ordering stuff to be delivered to my kitchen door has an appeal beyond keeping me safe from Covid and RSV.  Plus, my dog and cats have no interest in being a well-armed army of darkness.

I’m unsure how we stop turning every public location into the OK Corral.  I’m pretty sure MTG and the one from Colorado got their seats for being big gun fetishists, among other unappealing personality traits.  The MAGA cheerleaders aren’t going anywhere, it seems.  Yet, a majority out there wants this madness to end.  This is from Steny Hoyer’s site.  The Poll was taken in May of 2022.

POLITICO/Morning Consult poll out this morning shows that Americans overwhelmingly favor common-sense legislation to address gun violence.

  • 88% of Americans support requiring background checks on all gun sales.
    • In 2021, House Democrats passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks on all gun sales.
    • House Democrats also passed H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, which would close the ‘Charleston Loophole’ and work to prevent firearms from reaching the hands of prohibited gun owners.
  • 84% of Americans support preventing sales of all firearms to people reported as dangerous to law enforcement by a mental health provider.
    • During the first week of the June work period, the House will take up legislation to enact a national Red Flag law that would prevent those who pose a threat to themselves or others from being able to legally possess a firearm.

Senate Republicans should listen to the American people and work with Democrats on common-sense gun legislation that will take important steps towards ending gun violence in America.

That sounds like a good start.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?