‘Put your gun away …’

“Put your gun away; for all who take the gun will perish by the gun.” — Matthew 26:52

We were saddened to hear news of the shooting this morning at the offices of the Family Research Council. Our hearts go out to the shooting victim, his family, and his co-workers.

The motivation and circumstances behind today’s tragedy are still unknown, but regardless of what emerges as the reason for this shooting, we utterly reject and condemn such violence.  We wish for a swift and complete recovery for the victim of this terrible incident.

“For those inclined toward prayer, we ask that you pray for the security guard and for all the others who were targeted and are now undoubtedly shaken up by today’s events. For those not inclined toward prayer, we ask that you keep them in your thoughts.”

A few hours ago, a man walked into the Family Research Council’s headquarters in DC, where he shot and wounded a security guard before guards and bystanders subdued him. This should go without saying, but that was a despicable, cowardly, immoral thing to do. There is categorically no place for this kind of violence.

… the Southern Poverty Law Center didn’t simply lob the label “hate group” at the FRC and let people react as they may. It carefully and soberly spelled out its case: the FRC doesn’t just criticize gays and lesbians, it speaks of them in totalizing and demonizing ways. And it relies on junk science to do this. According to the SPLC, this constitutes a form of hate.

In any case, violence is certainly one form hate can take. But I’m not convinced the solution is to refrain from applying the word “hate” to other, lesser forms. Better to use the word with care, be clear about what we do and don’t mean, and commit ourselves to Martin Luther King Jr.’s conviction: “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

“Several anti-gay groups and their representatives wasted no time in actually blaming the LGBT community and/or liberals and progressives for this morning’s shooting at the Family Research Council‘s (FRC) Washington, D.C. headquarters, during which a security guard was shot in the arm. Others merely used the event as an opportunity to position themselves and the anti-gay lobby as victims …”

All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

… Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing. Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list. Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.

“Homosexuals are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by violent hate crime.”

The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as “the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,” but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians. The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

“Well, I like the American culture, such as it is, but let’s get rid of the [frakking] guns.”

  • AnonymousSam

    I think I’m missing something. I think it’s fair to say that the shooter perceived his actions as justified — but that doesn’t mean that any of us thought his actions were justified. Pointing out that those teenagers were politically active despite their youth isn’t an argument that his actions were right or not, it’s just stating a point. Whatever the shooter thought, he was clearly a sick individual and expecting his actions to be morally consistent and justified is somewhat missing the point of that fact.

  • Lori

     

    No, but saying they were “left wing” does mean accepting their killer’s framing of events. Which I do not.  

    The idea that they were politically active in a left-wing party is not the killer’s framing, it’s true. By refusing to acknowledge what you call “framing” you’re denying the reality of those kids’ lives as they really lived them. I honestly don’t see how this helps anything.

     

    When I was a teenager, I was angry at a lot of people who  were
    dismissive of me because of my youth. My being angry did not actually
    make me right or them wrong. 

    If people were dismissing you based strictly on your age then yes, IMO that makes them wrong. You may not have been right about the specific issue, but you were right to be angry at being dismissed based on nothing more than the number on your birth certificate.

     

    What I said might be disrespectful in your
    view, but is it misleading or incorrect?
     

    As far as I can tell, yes. Unless your premise is that left-wing is by definition an insult then I really don’t see how it’s correct to claim that politically aware people who were politically active in a left-wing party were not actually left-wing simply because they weren’t old enough to vote and didn’t have money to make political contributions. 

  • Emcee, cubed

     To go back to one of my earlier comments, FRC has now, in fact, issued an official statement claiming the SPLC gave people “license to shoot an unarmed man” because they [correctly] labeled FRC as a hate group.

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/16/us/dc-shooting-blame/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn

  • sptrashcan

     Let me preface this by saying that I am very concerned about the availability and number of firearms in America as an ongoing public health issue, and I would like to see efforts made to address this, perhaps through legislation, perhaps through efforts to change the public perception of guns as magic talismans that prevent bad things from happening to you.

    That said, can you count how many well-reasoned and thoughtful laws with few unintended consequences have been created when, in response to public pressure over a specific and highly atypical but emotionally distressing event, politicians have written broad and sweeping legislation in an attempt to make sure that no such incident will ever happen anywhere ever again?

    Now is a great time to pass really dumb laws that don’t address the most common problems and instead create new ones. I’m not in favor of that. So no, I’d really rather not talk about the guns, because this is not a typical gun incident. What it seems to me to be is an incident of political violence, which is becoming common enough in the US to make me concerned about eroding public belief in the safety of losing an election.

  • EllieMurasaki

    It’s what I’ve been saying right at this moment all along, Jesus was a Time Lord.
     
    No no no. It’s “Yer a wizard, Jesus.”

  • JonathanPelikan

    I wish I knew the answer to that question, but it involves an absolutely huge group of people and so many variables it makes my head spin to think about it. How far in advance of the US Civil War was it obvious that it was all going to happen? Was it even obvious while it was happening?

  • Mary Kaye

     I *don’t* think this was a particularly unusual event, though.  It’s fairly typical of what happens in US society.  Someone has a gun, someone wants to settle a grievance of some kind, someone gets shot. 

    I am sitting at home in a US city that’s no worse than most.  In the past few years we have had:

    a shooting of 7 people half a mile from here
    a shooting of 1 person in the park a quarter-mile from here
    a workplace shooting at the University a mile from here
    an armed stalker (luckily caught before he could shoot anyone) at the University a mile from here
    a discovery of a huge arsenal in a corrupt landlord’s home
    a shooting at a street fair about four miles from here
    a shooting at a downtown park about two miles from here
    the teacher of one of my co-workers’ children shot in a state park
    the shooting of four police officers

    And those are just the ones I know about, and exclude some south-city gang-related shootings.  Probably the only one most people outside of this city heard about is the first one, as it was particularly awful–a man walked into a cafe and opened fire.

    I have been threatened by someone with a gun.  So has my sister–two unrelated incidents.

    We also had a parent shot dead by his young child because he had left his gun unattended for a moment.

    If we ignore the little events, and the big events get a response of “big events make bad policy,” nothing will change.  In my view something needs to change, and the sooner the better.

  • Lori

     

    How far in advance of the US Civil War was it obvious that it was all going to happen? 

    AFAICT, about a year.

  • Lori

    I agree that something has to change and I wish it would happen sooner than later. I’ve just come to feel that what we really need is a change in our gun culture and I don’t think we can make that happen through changing the law. In fact, I don’t see how we’ll get any useful, workable change in the law until the culture changes.

    Over the years I’ve actually gotten less emphatically anti-gun, but far more anti-gun culture. People who have guns for hunting or target practice or some actually practical version of self-defense don’t bother me. I can’t see any good enough reason for a single person to need an arsenal though or to own a gun or ammunition whose sole purpose is killing as many people as possible in a very short amount of time.  Those things are legal because we have a gun culture that says gun = power or manliness or some such and because the NRA raises huge amounts of money by convincing people that any restriction on guns or ammo = ZOMG! BANNING ALL THE GUNS.

    I have no idea how we go about changing that, but I do know that until we figure it out mass shootings are going to be part of our lives. The only thing I feel at all sure of is that we have to stop talking about those mass shootings and other gun violence as if (to borrow from digby) it’s like bad weather—destructive, but there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

    TL; dr: I agree with you that we have to talk about gun when there’s a high profile shooting because otherwise we’ll never talk about them and we really, really need to.

  • veejayem

    It has been suggested before in posts on this blog that there might be a little corner of the afterlife with a high wall around it, where the haters and the fundies can spend eternity, preening themselves that they are the only ones who made it. They are welcome to their sad little corner as far as I am concerned.

    But it would be rather fun if faint sounds of music and laughter from outside drift over the top of the wall now and then.

  • Tricksterson

    That it would happen when and more or less how it did yes, but I think something like the Civil War was predictable from the beginning.  The whole Constitutional Convention was  an attempt to weld together two alien cultures.  It was only achievable by brute force, the Civil War  and then by wretched compromsie (the ending of Reconstruction) that allowed the South to become a nation within a nation which it to some extent still is and always will be.

  • Lori

    As they say, hindsight is 20/20. I don’t think people living it perceived war as inevitable until about a year before the first shots on Fort Sumter, and that makes sense. It’s always easier to trace history backwards than to live it forwards.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I would like to see efforts made to address this, perhaps through legislation, perhaps through efforts to change the public perception of guns as magic talismans that prevent bad things from happening to you.

    This is will sound grim, but one of the things that might change that perception is the most vocal second-amendment proponents dying in high profile by gunshot from people with privately owned firearms before they can even draw their weapon.  

    Of course, the only people who would actually use guns that way are either overtly criminal (in which case their actions can be easily “dismissed”) or mentally disturbed (in which case they should not be owning guns in the first place, not that it stops the most egregious killers.)  

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Over the years I’ve actually gotten less emphatically anti-gun, but far more anti-gun culture. People who have guns for hunting or target practice or some actually practical version of self-defense don’t bother me. I can’t see any good enough reason for a single person to need an arsenal though or to own a gun or ammunition whose sole purpose is killing as many people as possible in a very short amount of time.  Those things are legal because we have a gun culture that says gun = power or manliness or some such and because the NRA raises huge amounts of money by convincing people that any restriction on guns or ammo = ZOMG! BANNING ALL THE GUNS.

    I think that you and I are in complete agreement on this.  

    I know some responsible gun owners, and I do not see anything wrong with. say, a gun hobbiest who likes to tool around with one, maybe fire off a few shots at a range or such.  But a gun is just that, a particular device.  What really gets under my skin is that “gun-culture” you mentioned, that strange melange of insecurity, mythology  and paranoia that tend to surround the things.  

    You know the slogan “Gun’s don’t kill people, people kill people”?  Well, one cannot occupy that philosophical position while simultaneously assigning guns a particular moral value in and of themselves.  And yet so many in the gun-culture do that.  It makes people crazy, and crazy people are the ones I least trust to own guns responsibly.  

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Sure we need to change the gun culture. But changing the laws is part and parcel of that.

    When people want to end something terrible — be it slavery, dogfighting, paying women less than men, people not having health insurance, whatever — they don’t say, “we need to change the culture, but we shouldn’t bother with the laws.” The laws need to be changed, assault weapons and handguns need to be far less accessible. 

    The NRA has shouted everyone else down. But most people don’t belong to the NRA, and most people don’t think it’s a glorious thing that a man (it’s always a man or boy, speaking of a culture that needs to change) can easily get the weapons that allow him to murder a bunch of random people. The NRA has shoved laws onto the books that are broken and lead to us having a more violent society — those laws need to be removed, and laws that are sensible need to take their place. 

    Part of cultural change in a democracy is calling for new laws, and an end to old laws. We just need to be loud again.


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