An Indecorous Plea for Perspective

Mike Dunford didn’t like my previous post, and says that it’s important to talk about gun control right now:

But we also cannot forget that people are dead. We cannot forget that people have been murdered. We cannot forget that many – too many – lives have been brought to a sudden, random end. We cannot forget that these deaths were not necessary, that they could have been avoided. [...]

How, in good conscience, could we possibly be expected to shut up right now?

I managed to edit all the f-bombs out of yesterday’s post, but this annoys me. I’m not sure exactly which straw caused the fatal spinal injury to the metaphorical pack animal, but I’m sufficiently pissed off to post the blue version of the rant below the fold. Consider yourself warned.

“People are dead,” and thus we must speak, that’s the argument.

Yes, people are dead. And you know what? They’ll still be dead tomorrow. They’ll still be dead next week. They’ll still be dead in thirty fucking years, because that’s what being fucking dead means.

This is not a time-sensitive topic. They’re not going to pop back to life three days hence, when Keanu Reeves reboots the fucking Matrix, thus invalidating all your arguments about the political significance of their deaths. They’ll still be dead in a week. And a week from now, we’ll probably even know their names, which we don’t yet.

This is the problem with the blogosphere, and why I sometimes think of giving the whole thing up– it’s a million monkeys at a million keyboard typing away with absolutely no fucking sense of perspective.

“People are dead.” Yes, they’re dead. There are parents who will never see their children again, and children who will never see their parents again. And we don’t even know who they are. Hell, they don’t even know who they are, as some of the families haven’t been contacted yet.

And yet, to some people, nothing is more important than using their deaths to score cheap rhetorical points in an endless fucking argument on the fucking Internet. Which is absolutely fucking repellant– it pains me to share a species with these people.

Get some fucking perspective. People are dead, and they and their families deserve a decent interval in which to mourn and be mourned. They’ll still be dead in a week, they’ll still be excellent fucking props for useless Internet wanking.

“We cannot forget…” Do you think that’s fucking likely? Do you think there’s a fucking ghost of an atom of a chance that any of their friends and familiy are ever going to fucking forget that their loved ones are senselessly dead? There are thirty-three families out there for whom April 16, 2007 will forever be burned into their memories. This is their September 11, their November 22nd 1963– they’re never going to forget this.

There’s an entire university worth of students and faculty who are never going to feel safe again. Do you think they’re going to fucking forget this? Do you think these deaths will somehow stop being fucking relevant to them if you don’t get your blog posts out there right this second?

“It won’t be news in a week,” you might say. Well, fuck that. Fuck the American people and their mayflylike attention spans. If it’s too much fucking work to penetrate their American Idol haze seven days from now when you’ve got thirty-three senseless deaths to remind them, they’re a lost cause anyway.

“We have to act immediately…” Why? Did they pass a fucking Amendment when I wasn’t looking that gives jack-offs on the Internet the power to re-write the laws of the nation if they just type fast enough in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy? You’re not going to change the laws tomorrow, and you’re not going to change them next week. There’ll be time enough for legislative wrangling a week from now, and the dead will still be dead.

“Bush and McCain already said that we don’t need gun control…” someone says in comments. Well, fuck Bush, and fuck McCain, too. They’re assholes– and you already fucking knew that. And there has never in the history of human speech been an instant where “he did it first” was a winning argument. The fact that they’ve thrown away any lingering shred of dignity they might’ve retained is no reason for the rest of us to go stomping ghoulishly all over this issue before the blood is even dry.

The gun control argument is always going to be there. It’s not like another round of deaths is suddenly going to make John Lott and his army of fucking sock puppets say “Wait, maybe I’ve been wrong all this time…” or Sarah Brady say “You know, if only some of those students had been packing heat…” There will be the same stupid fucking arguments on both sides tomorrow, and next week, and the week after that. You’ll be having the same stupid fucking argument long after the names are released and the dead are buried and the lives of the survivors are pieced back together as best they can be.

Yeah, this is a wonderful case study for whatever your favored position on gun control is. It’ll fucking keep.

Someone in my comments claims that this is just an attempt to suppress the gun control argument entirely, and to some degree it is. If I go a hundred years before I here another round of this “debate,” it’ll still be too fucking soon for me. But look, if it means that much to you, I’ll promise to post my take on the whole thing next week, in exchange for a little basic human decency and respect for the dead.

Let the families grieve. Let the invesitgators sift through the wreckage. Have a little fucking perspective.

Comments

  1. #1 Perry
    April 17, 2007

    ___
    This is the problem with the blogosphere, and why I sometimes think of giving the whole thing up– it’s a million monkeys at a million keyboard typing away with absolutely no fucking sense of perspective.
    ___

    If blogging is outlawed though, then only monkeys will blog.

    I saw 15 minutes of coverage last night and was sickened. Lots of talking heads, and after the obligatory “I feel bad for the students families” it was off to the same old tired monologues. Both sides. Autopilot. Stupid.

  2. #2 csrster
    April 17, 2007

    Yesterday I learnt the word “disasterbate” (http://untrue_madhouse.blogspot.com/).

    Like you, I’m sickened by the sudden urge of so many scibloggers to use this terrible crime as an excuse to spout off their predictable opinions – (not that I necessarily disagree with them, either). It’s an unedifying spectacle of mass-disasterbation.

    I think today has not been one of scienceblogs finest hours.

  3. #3 Saboma
    April 17, 2007

    The Oklahoman at http://www.newsok.com has a guestbook online through Legacy.com for others to submit their sympathy about the tragedy.

    It can be viewed at: http://www.legacy.com/oklahoman/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=87298850

    Also, VTech’s campus is reporting up to date information at: http://collegemedia.com

  4. #4 Pistaugh
    April 17, 2007

    It’s sick how fast both sides had talking points for bloggers to copy and paste on their respective web sites.

    This country is so fucked up.

    Thanks for this post, Mr. Orzel. I wish I had written it myself.

  5. #5 adam
    April 17, 2007

    I am about to blog about this issue myself (came here just before writing to get the link where Chad is calling for decorum). In general, I’m with Volokh on the fact that, yes, people will use disasters to make their case and, further, it doesn’t really bother me that they do (based on why I think that they do it). In general, if you really expect people to take a step back and observe a decorous silence, I think that you will be perpetually doomed to disappointment; most people will probably step back, but it doesn’t take many that don’t to ruin the desired quiet.

    My problem is with the particular fact of using extremely rare events like this (some nutso shooting lots of people) to inform the gun debate, when events like this are, in fact, a tiny part of the wider issue because they are so damn rare. Wheras, say, the Iraq debate is informed by the large numbers (much larger than have been killed in mass shootings) of innocent people being killed in bombings, because those bombings are part of a set of the sometimes interlocking, sometimes competing, strategies of various groups and are central to how things will turn out (and what might be done to affect that). On the other hand, shootings like this are not central to the overall gun debate; most deaths from shooting (or resulting from crime in general) are not mass shootings and, in fact, they are a tiny minority of gun- or crime-related deaths.

    What makes events like this attractive to punditry and campaigning is that they get huge amounts of news coverage and are shocking and, I guess, leave at least some of the viewing audience open to emotional manipulation. Furthermore, as Volokh has pointed out (and as a friend and I discussed yesterday before we had read Volokh’s post), because one side does it, or is likely to, the other side has to consider getting in on it, too; even absent what I mentioned above as the futility of expecting universal decorous behaviour, campaigners may have no real choice but to strike when the emotional iron is hot. If they don’t, their campaign loses ground to its opposition and, if the campaigners really care about their cause, the decision isn’t that hard to make; the reason that the discussion advances nothing is, I think, because both sides do it. If one side used the event and the other side didn’t, I do think that they might get results. Twisting the American people’s emotions to your own ends does work, if only because Congress are populist whores. It’s probably not even the least pleasant part of the making of the campaign/lobbying sausage.

  6. #6 John Novak
    April 17, 2007

    I’m not nearly as torqued off about it as you are, but, I take the notion that people absolutely have to talk about it Right Now as an open admission that their arguments are driven more by the emotional impact of the situation than any sober, sound reasoning.

  7. #7 adam
    April 17, 2007

    John Novak #6: I think that their current use of it is like that, but not because they are intellectually bankrupt but because they know what they are doing. By their lights, they are in a conflict to achieve ends that are more important than these deaths and, thus, they’ll use whatever means they can to win. If they don’t, they entirely justifiably fear that their enemies will. This has enormous media coverage and is being discussed all over the country. Clever manipulation of the situation to their own ends is clearly attractive to people with a cause they care a lot about.

    The only way, therefore, to stop it is for the public not to be susceptible to it. Don’t hold your breath.

  8. #8 Mike Bruce
    April 17, 2007

    I was subjected to some cable news last night. Students who heard gunfire were being interviewed. Dr. Phil was providing commentary on the psychological angle. Larry King presided. It was like a bad parody of cable news, except real. And not at all amusing, given the tragic context.

    re: if you really expect people to take a step back and observe a decorous silence, I think that you will be perpetually doomed to disappointment

    Probably. But the expectation is more of a moral position than a prediction.

  9. #9 John Novak
    April 17, 2007

    Adam #6: I think that their current use of it is like that, but not because they are intellectually bankrupt but because they know what they are doing.

    Oh, there’s no reason it can’t be both, collectively or individually. But in deference to Chad, I’m not even going to push that line of thought very far today.

  10. #10 Chad Orzel
    April 17, 2007

    [E]ven absent what I mentioned above as the futility of expecting universal decorous behaviour, campaigners may have no real choice but to strike when the emotional iron is hot. If they don’t, their campaign loses ground to its opposition and, if the campaigners really care about their cause, the decision isn’t that hard to make

    I agree that that’s what they’re thinking, but I think that’s only because politicians are amoral scum with no more sense of perspective than bloggers.

    Again, this is not a time critical political issue. The election isn’t tomorrow, and it’s not even next week. The Presidential election is a year and a half off. There is almost nothing that a candidate can do right now (short of being caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy, as the saying goes) that would put them in such a big hole that they wouldn’t be able to recover in a year and a half. There’s no reason at all to believe that taking a decent interval before trying to score political points off this massacre would do irreparable harm to anyone’s campaign.

    This is a lack of perspective issue again. It seems critical to people who are involved in politics because we’ve created a culture in which political junkies value politics above all else. Every issue and every event is seen primarily in terms of its poltiical impact, and only secondarily in terms of what’s good for the nation. What’s decent and humane comes a distant third, if they even get that far before some other random event sends them off on a completely new course.

    That’s just wrong, and it pisses me off.

  11. #11 Stuart Coleman
    April 17, 2007

    I agree with you (as I did yesterday). The only people more disgusting than the ones calling for gun control are the ones blaming evolution, atheists or Muslims. I’ve called for a day of silence just to separate the people who understand what tragedy is from those who just want to use it for their own motives.

    Thank you for having the sense to realize what tragedy really means.

  12. #12 MaryKaye
    April 17, 2007

    IMHO, Some things are simply stupefyingly random. And, the stupefyingly random sends a million folks into “if only” mode. It is like a prayer to reassure that some difference (eg, no one has guns, or everyone has guns) might have prevented the random event. I lived through the aftermath of Columbine. Dozens of talking heads, a million miles of print, deconstructions that totaled a bazillion words, and in the end, no clear sense how to avoid it in the future, because there was no clear sense of what prompted it to happen in the first place. The media (of whatever kind) and the stunned public need each other. It is a ritual of ‘sense making’ that is doomed to fail, because no sense can be made of it. We demand a blow-by-blow accounting, with pictures, film footage, first hand accounts, and strongly worded positions, as soon as possible, so as to try to situate ourselves and answer the questions “How does this effect ME?” and “How can I reassure MYself that it would never happen to me/my child/my spouse/…?” We search for a magic amulet that makes us different, changes things, and keeps us protected. That there isn’t one, doesn’t prevent a crazed, near instantaneous, but hopeful search, and the claim to have found it. [My apologies for 'stupefyingly.' I suspect it's not a real word. But the coinage seemed to fit.]

  13. #13 igor eduardo kupfer
    April 17, 2007

    Chad, I love it when you talk dirty.

    But seriously, a request for a measured and considered response instead of hysterical overreaction isn’t going to find much of an audience. I appreciate the effort, though.

  14. #14 David Phillips
    April 17, 2007

    Yesterday, I didn’t understand why Chad was pleading vainly for decorum. This morning as I punched off the radio because Americans were arguing about gun control on the BBC, I appreciated both the plea and its hopelessness. People focused on any specific political issue often will view the whole world through one distorting lens.

    Life is a fun house mirror with a great big gun where your belly would be.

  15. #15 Dave Munger
    April 17, 2007

    Chad, I think these debates are the way some people cope with the tragedy. It may seem senseless to you, but they are actually searching for some way to make sense of it.

  16. #16 Rob Knop
    April 17, 2007

    So, Chad, if I understand you correctly, people who are opposed to things like the PATRIOT act should just be good little nice people and shut up while it gets rammed down our throat?

    -Rob

  17. #17 Coin
    April 17, 2007

    I agree with you (as I did yesterday). The only people more disgusting than the ones calling for gun control are the ones blaming evolution, atheists or Muslims

    And let’s not forget the people calling blaming gun control for the deaths, as Orac’s post along these lines got flooded with… actually I’ve seen way more of that in the last 24 hours than I’ve seen of people calling for more gun control, for some weird reason.

    My problem is with the particular fact of using extremely rare events like this (some nutso shooting lots of people) to inform the gun debate, when events like this are, in fact, a tiny part of the wider issue because they are so damn rare.

    In this particular case the thing that truly amazed me was that all of these attempts to use this rare event to inform debates was done in the complete absence of any information. The first data about the gunman was released only this morning, yet we had a full day yesterday of the spectacle of people drawing knee-jerk conclusions from an event that they didn’t even know anything about yet.

    If we’re going to try to draw conclusions about gun control or whatnot from a rare event like this, well, I don’t really know what the appropriate time would be, in terms of human dignity or respect for the families, to start doing so. However, I know what the only appropriate time to start doing so would be in terms of intellectual honesty: After we know enough about the event to say whether gun control could have / would have helped / hindered! (And same for Atheism, Islam, video games, NASA, etc.) Yet I saw plenty of people willing to jump on this event from the word go to argue for/against gun control well before knowing where the shooter got the gun, who the shooter was, or in some cases without even stopping to find out what Virginia’s gun laws were.

    This I am beginning to think is the true calling card of a viewpoint which is based on emotional manipulation rather than a solid factual basis– that advocacy for these viewpoints perks up not when facts are available, but when emotions are high.

  18. #18 Asad
    April 17, 2007

    Wow Rob, you totally missed Chad’s point.

  19. #19 CCPhysicist
    April 17, 2007

    It is illegal in this state to bring a weapon on campus, but is that why it happened in Va and not here? I doubt it.

  20. #20 Coin
    April 17, 2007

    blaming gun control for the deaths, as Orac’s post along these lines got flooded with

    Wait; I just noticed I misread the comment attached to Orac’s blog post I was referring to here. The comment actually was blaming weak gun control, not blaming gun control. Doesn’t really make a difference for purposes of the current discussion, I guess, but still, sorry about that.

    (Still, for some reason I did see more people over the last day jumping on the tragedy to denounce gun control for somehow having contributed than jumping on the tragedy to advocate gun control as a magic bullet.)

  21. #21 Rob Knop
    April 17, 2007

    Wow Rob, you totally missed Chad’s point.

    No I didn’t.

    Read my own blog post on the matter. I explain at length there.

    And, YES, I understand that Chad is arguing that this time, nothing is likely to happen the way the PATRIOT act happened after 9/11. In my original post on the matter, though, I was making a broader point.

  22. #22 Chad Orzel
    April 17, 2007

    So, Chad, if I understand you correctly, people who are opposed to things like the PATRIOT act should just be good little nice people and shut up while it gets rammed down our throat?

    No. Insofar as I’m saying anything about legislation (which isn’t all that far), I’m saying that people shouldn’t try to ram things like the PATRIOT act down anybody’s throat in the first few days after a major national tragedy.

    What I’m really saying is that people who feel compelled to say things like “The violent deaths of 33 people in this incident completely confirm every political belief that I have” should have the basic decency to wait until the bodies are cold before scoring their cheap political points.

    Is it really that difficult to say “This is a horrible event, and my heart goes out to the victims and their families in this dreadful hour,” and then stop talking, at least until the dead are buried?

  23. #23 adam
    April 17, 2007

    The evidence suggests that sweary posts get more traffic.

  24. #24 German Reader
    April 17, 2007

    Somebody got shot yesterday, someone will be shot tomorrow, and someone will be shot the day after tomorrow. Every single day a family is mourning. Your argument is based on the prominence of the victims. You can repeat it on any given day. Now what? If talking about the issue today is an insult to the (prominent victims) today, it will be an insult to the (less prominent) victims tomorrow. I’m afraid, but I think you’re connecting the wrong dots here.

  25. #25 Mike Dunford
    April 17, 2007

    OK. I’m still thinking about what you’ve said, and I’m still going to take some time to gather my thoughts before I write a full response on my blog. Right now, though, there is one thing that I want to get absolutely clear:

    “People are dead,” and thus we must speak, that’s the argument.

    No, Chad, that wasn’t the fucking argument. The chunk of my post made it look like that was the argument, but a lot of that was because you left out the paragraph that came between “people are dead” and “how can we be expected to shut up.” If you include the paragraph that comes in between the two, the argument actually looks a little bit different:

    We cannot help but wonder if there were things that we should have done before now, that would have prevented this tragedy. We cannot help but wonder if there are things that we should do to keep this from happening again. We cannot help but wonder if something like this could happen again tomorrow. We mourn for the dead but we worry about those who are alive.

    I have a really hard time believing that you didn’t catch the change in meaning when you did that little bit of editing, but just in case you really didn’t grasp my argument I’m going to state it clearly:

    It’s important to talk about things today because something like that could happen again tomorrow, and the deaths that just occurred don’t change that. Maybe we should have figured out that something like this could have happened before it did, and maybe we should have been talking about things last week or month or year.

    Look, I doubt that the change in my meaning does anything to change the basic point that you were making. The language you used wasn’t all that flattering, but if you really are that mad at me, go ahead and fucking drop the fucking f-bomb all over the fucking place.

    Just have the goddamn decency to beat me up over my real argument, OK.

  26. #26 DavidD
    April 17, 2007

    It is a strange thing to watch the sensationalism of the three cable news channels while the rest of TV keeps to their regular programming. Is one wrong and the other right? I watch reporters going after whether the school administration was at fault almost as soon as the story breaks and hosts impassionately wanting to know instant analysis about the shooter from their expert guests.

    I don’t think the intellectual analysis I see on blogs is anywhere near as offensive as the cable news, even the analysis that has it absolutely backwards, in my opinion. None of these people killed anyone yesterday. None of these people are hounding anyone who is grieving to tell them a story.

    I wind up going where I often go when I hate what people are doing. Everyone does what they know to do, even mass murderers, even sensationalist media. That doesn’t mean it has to be this way, but it is human nature that gets everyone so angry, both the human nature people are angry at and their own human nature people are heeding in their anger. Telling people they need to be different isn’t that effective until people calm down. Even when people have calmed down it’s not that effective.

    So people are going to continue to be offensive by nature. Yet even our flawed culture gives me plenty of choices to escape that, for the sake of grief or anything else. There’s an off button. There are doors. For most people there are others who love you. Use them and let other people follow their nature. It seems fair to me, even if I can picture better ways.

  27. #27 SmellyTerror
    April 17, 2007

    I haven’t seen any friends and family coming onto the blogs to express their offense. Something tells me they’re unlikely to be leaping into the blogoshpere at this terrible time (surpised?). If they have, they don’t seem to have been offended. So whose feelings are we trying to spare, here? Yours?

    Who appointed you the noble guardian of the victims? What the hell qualifies you to speak on their behalf? Because you’re not saying that you will be hurt, but that THEY will be. How do you know? Did you ask them? Or are you just assuming they agree with whatever you believe?

    People getting offended on other people’s behalf is self righteous wankery. If, in your perfect world, the blogosphere just gave condolences and then shut up about the issue, that would help HOW? So if the family came along and saw deafening silence about their tragedy, just the usual ID-bashing and physics talk and funny jokes, and saw that – apparently – people don’t give a flying crap about this terrible event, that would help HOW?

    People CARE. People talk about this because it matters. It SHOULD matter.

    …and to have YOU come along and use this event to present your own views, which are that others should not present theirs until you, personally, are satisfied that decorum is maintained, well that just reeks of irony. Get over yourself.

  28. #28 SmellyTerror
    April 17, 2007

    PS: I dig your stuff, Chad, and I don’t mean to imply you are anything but an excellent human being, but in this case you’ve done exactly what you asked others not to do: you’ve acted from the emotion, and you have (IMO) screwed up.

  29. #29 CCPhysicist
    April 17, 2007

    You have a point, Mike. Leaving out We cannot help but wonder if there are things that we should do to keep this from happening again. obscures the most important part of any rational discussion of this event. There has been little discussion anywhere of how any particular change in any law consistent with the Constitution would have prevented this guy’s illegal acts. He had no record; he was patient enough to wait between his two purchases; you name it, it looks like he could have complied with it.

  30. #30 Jonathan Vos Post
    April 17, 2007

    (1) I haven’t blogged about the Virgina Tech tragedy anywhere, until now.

    (2) I agree with Chad about waiting a decent interval. That’s why I’m commenting here.

    (3) I don’t see this event as primary about guns, either pro (if more students had been packing heat) or con (if only it were as hard to buy a gun in the USA as it South Korea). There have always been other ways to murder, and always will.

    (4) I don’t see this as a proof of C. P. Snow’s “Two Cultures” hypothesis — an English major shooting people in Engineering.

    (5) This is not about “rich kids and debauchery” as the note left in the killer’s dorm room claims, except in his own twisted mind.

    (6) I don’t see this as evidence that schools are unsafe. Only the innumerate can make that case.

    (7) “We cannot help but wonder if there are things that we should do to keep this from happening again.” Correct. If I an believe the Media (many grains of salt) then there were several instances of “creative writing” that made at least one professor strongly recommend psychiatric counseling for the killer. To me, this is a bigger can of worms than the guns.

    (8) If what one writes makes one subject to psychiatry, than most of Science Fiction Writers of America and all of Horror Writers of America would be in padded cells for 72 hour observation. As a First Amendment absolutist, thgis is a terrifying to me as calls for more gun control are to a Second Amendment absolutist.

    (9) On the other hand, the stigma of self-reporting severe depression or anxiety and the stigma of treatment may have been a real cause for the failure to have prevented this tragedy. And, unless a more enlightened public opinion is reached regarding mental health, I can gurantee that this kind of horror will happen again.

    (10) This is merely what I think. What I feel goes beyond tears. The part of this that broke the floodgates for me was the image of a Holocaust survivor barring the killer at the door to allow his students to climb out the windows, and getting the bullets that he suspected would be the price. The killer was not some Stephen King mainfestation of evil, but deeply sick. The hero who survived the Nazi death machine, and then sacrificed his life for his students — that makes me proud to be a human being.

  31. #31 Chad Orzel
    April 17, 2007

    Mike: I have a really hard time believing that you didn’t catch the change in meaning when you did that little bit of editing, but just in case you really didn’t grasp my argument I’m going to state it clearly:

    I didn’t see a change in meaning from my edit, which was done for reasons of length, not ideology. The two bits I quoted are the two bits that put me over the edge (having seen a bunch of grief-pimping posts in other places), but I didn’t want it to take up the entire front page of the blog.

    If you feel you were badly misrepresented by that, I apologize.

    People getting offended on other people’s behalf is self righteous wankery. If, in your perfect world, the blogosphere just gave condolences and then shut up about the issue, that would help HOW? So if the family came along and saw deafening silence about their tragedy, just the usual ID-bashing and physics talk and funny jokes, and saw that – apparently – people don’t give a flying crap about this terrible event, that would help HOW?

    I’m not saying nobody should talk about it– I’m fine with talking about the events in general terms. What I object to is using it– posts of the form “This just goes to show that I was right all along…” are downright indecent.

    I realize that my feelings are somewhat extreme in this regard– I’ve marked every September 11 anniversary by taking my blog down for the day, and I plan to continue that for the forseeable future, as I have a difficult time imagining that I’ll ever come up with something to post on that day that wouldn’t be an insult to the memory of those who died.

    If you want to reflect on the awfulness of the event, or offer tributes to those who died, by all means, do that. Those serve a useful purpose, and can be very moving– the Jamie Bishop tributes over at the Inferior 4 made me choke up a little, and I didn’t even know the guy. Just don’t try to use this as evidence to prove your political preconceptions– wait a few days at least.

    See also Timothy Burke’s take.

  32. #32 Coin
    April 17, 2007

    You have a point, Mike. Leaving out We cannot help but wonder if there are things that we should do to keep this from happening again. obscures the most important part of any rational discussion of this event. There has been little discussion anywhere of how any particular change in any law consistent with the Constitution would have prevented this guy’s illegal acts. He had no record; he was patient enough to wait between his two purchases; you name it, it looks like he could have complied with it.

    Well, what I would like to know is whether he was using the high-capacity magazines that were banned under the 1994 assault weapons act that expired in 2004. That would change things significantly.

    However my understanding is that no actual information about this has been made available by the authorities yet, and I’m disinclined to comment until we know.

  33. #33 Mary Kay
    April 17, 2007

    If I go a hundred years before I here another round of this “debate,” it’ll still be too fucking soon for me.

    Fuckin’ A.

    MKK

  34. #34 Mil
    April 18, 2007

    Someone important said – we live in reactive times. When the gov is not proactive enough, people will have to push for reactions. And, gov is sensitive (if at all) to people perceptions. It is thus perhaps wrong of Chad to vouch that people are dead, and let them be for a week or month. But I agree with Chad that the proponents need to keep the momentum going even after a week/10 days (or begin after the dust has settled). Importantly, if they think what they believe in today (or on April 16th) will stand the test of time. Else, conserve your energy for something else. I welcome Chad’s suggestion that he would comment on the event after a week.