“Van Control”

(I’m re-posting a Facebook comment here, because it might be useful in the future. All snark has been preserved, because I’m sick of this crap.)

The post:

When a 64 year old white man kills 58 and wounds 500 in fifteen minutes from 1200 feet with a knife, I will absolutely call for knife control. Until then, you've made the world's shittiest point.

The response:

A van killed 86 people in less than 3 mins, van control anyone????

The comment:

Oh, you sweet, sweet man. You’re obviously new here.
Continue reading


That Texas Open-Carry Law

The Texas Legislature passed HB 910, which amends current law to allow open-carry of handguns. All that is left is for Governor Abbott to sign it.

Someone asked the following question in what became a very strange Facebook thread: Can a business ban people who are open-carrying guns under Texas’ new law? The short answer is yes, they can.

To delve a bit more, currently § 30.06 of the Texas Penal Code (yes, I do find that hilarious) allows businesses to prohibit people with a CHL from concealed-carrying on their premises, referring to it as “trespass by holder of license to carry concealed handgun.”

Via ar15armory.com

Click to embiggen (via ar15armory.com)

HB 910 (PDF of the final version here) amends § 30.06 to remove the “concealed” language, because it appears that, assuming the governor signs the bill, the state will now simply be licensing people to carry handguns in public, concealed or not. Continue reading


What I’m Reading, December 18, 2014

Katniss Everdeen, Thank You For Your Service, Ben Adams, Overthinking It, December 15, 2014

The individual experience of a veteran is as diverse and varied as any other institution with millions of members – prior to serving, those who served in the military come from all walks of life and backgrounds. During service, the experience of each service member varies widely, from a desk job in Washington DC to driving a warship through the Pacific to humping a rucksack and a rifle through the Taliban-controlled mountains of Afghanistan. And after leaving the military, veterans can be seen in all facets of society, making art, starting businesses, Overthinking things, etc.

But it is far too easy to leave this individuality behind and force the modern American* combat veteran into one of two competing narratives: the Courageous Hero or the Downtrodden and Broken Victim. In the Hero story, the veteran was born waving an American flag, traveling stoically across the sea to do battle with a distant enemy and returning home unbowed and unbroken; in the Victim story, the veteran was exploited by forces beyond his control, forced into the desert, subjected to unthinkable tragedy, and is now a hollow shell, subject to either crippling depression or psychotic breaks.


As with Katniss, veteran stories of heroism and victimization aren’t necessarily wrong. To be sure, many veterans have in fact accomplished any number of heroic deeds, sacrificing themselves for their fellow soldiers and civilians caught in the crossfire. And to be sure, many veterans have in fact been victimized by combat, coming home either not at all, or with wounds both physical and mental.

But in the stories we tell ourselves, the actual living, breathing, veteran frequently becomes just a stand-in for an undifferentiated mass of Veterans.

Gun nuts’ racial duplicity: How Ferguson and Garner undermined their Second Amendment crusade, Amanda Gailey, Salon, December 15, 2014 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, October 7, 2014

My day at the gun nuts’ confab: Blunt talk, high drama and mass paranoia, Alexander Zaitchik, Salon, October 7, 2014

Earlier that morning, a speaker had flattered the [Gun Rights Policy Conference] crowd by calling them “the most sophisticated gun-rights gathering in the country.” This is probably true. It’s also telling. All of the room’s combined political experience, intelligence and savvy still does not add up to the ability to grasp how America’s largely unregulated gun trade has become a public health crisis, or why background checks and other common-sense measures poll so well. The gun-rights movement continues to see background checks through the same paranoid prism it sees everything else: the threat of door-to-door gun confiscation.

Why I will no longer speak on all-male panels, Scott Gilmore, MacLean’s, October 4, 2014 Continue reading


What I’m Reading, June 4, 2014

Insomnia Cured Here [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)], via FlickrThe NRA’s Frankenstein monster, Mano Singham, Freethought Blogs, June 3, 2014

The Frankenstein story is a morality tale that gets played over and over again in political life. A group (a government or political party or other organization) covertly supports and encourages extremists in order to achieve their own goals, thinking that they can control their surrogates and rein them in after they have served their purpose, only to find that the group has grown beyond its control and is determined to continue on its own path and in order to do us, turns against its own creator.


Things are so bad that the extremists are spawning even more extreme groups. The recent spat between the NRA and the group known as Open Carry Texas is a case in point. The NRA has been promoting the idea that people have the right of completely unbridled ownership of guns and to carry them anywhere at any time. The OCT took them at their word and its members went into a Chili’s fast food restaurant toting large semi-automatic weapons, freaking out the regular customers and this resulted in them being asked to not bring their guns into the store again.

This episode resulted in such bad publicity that the NRA, of all groups, has issued a sharply worded admonishment to the OCT telling them to cut it out. But OCT has turned on the NRA, accusing them of betraying the rights of gun owners.

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I Know that the Vast Majority of Gun Owners Are Very Responsible

It’s just that the ones who aren’t ought to make us all very nervous.


What I’m Reading, May 9, 2014

Philipp Clüver [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsBarbarians in Oklahoma, Charles Pierce, Esquire, April 30, 2014 (h/t PZ Myers)

I am saying this quite deliberately. The state of Oklahoma committed an act of fucking barbarism last night. It did so under the color of law, which makes every citizen of that benighted state complicit in the act of fucking barbarism. The governor of that state, a pink balloon named Mary Fallin, is a fucking barbarian. A state legislator named Mike Christian is a fucking barbarian, for reasons we will get to in a moment. Every politician in that benighted state belongs in a fucking cage this morning.

(Emphasis in original.)

Andrew Wakefield: Attracting antivaccine cranks like moths to a flame since 1998, Orac, Respectful Insolence, May 7, 2014

Andrew Wakefield, like many antivaccinationists, doesn’t like being called an “antivaccinationist” or “antivaccine.” This becomes evident in a part of the interview where Billy D [Billy DeMoss] asks Wakefield if there are any vaccines that are effective; i.e., if there are any vacines that “work.” It’s clear that Billy D wants Wakefield to say that vaccines don’t work. He doesn’t say that—exactly. He does, however, equivocate. Instead of saying whether vaccines work or not, he does say that vaccines result in the production of antibodies against the organisms for which they are designed, after which he questions whether antibodies actually lead to immunity and pulls out the antivaccine trope of questioning how long the immunity from vaccines lasts. He even goes so far as to claim that the mumps vaccine is not needed, that it doesn’t work, and that mumps is a “trivial disease,” which it is not. (If you develop deafness from mumps, to you it’s not a trivial disease.”

Rick Santorum: Georgia Law ‘Creates An Opportunity’ For Gun Owners To Police Airports, David, Crooks and Liars, April 27, 2014 Continue reading


If Smartphones Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Smartphones

By Jacrews7 (Flickr: On The Floor Texting) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Dr. Keith Ablow, the man who apparently will say anything if it means Fox News will keep letting him be on the teevee, has figured out how to explain the recent Florida movie theater shooting in a way that doesn’t implicate guns at all: data rage. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds.

Fox News “Medical A-Team” member Keith Ablow thinks smartphones may be even more dangerous to have in theaters than handguns.

Ablow on Tuesday said a smartphone caused a retired police officer to experience “data rage” toward a man who was texting in a Florida theater and fatally shoot him.

After Curtis Reeves was ordered held without bond on Tuesday, Fox News hosts Bill Hemmer and Alisyn Camerota asked the television psychiatrist what might have caused the 71-year-old ex-Tampa officer pull out his .380 pistol and shoot 43-year-old Chad Oulson while he was texting his 3-year-old daughter.

“I think we may have to look at something I’ll call data rage,” Ablow opined. “Just like road rage. We know that when people interact with machines that sometimes they feel emboldened to do things that they never would, that it can be tremendously frustrating and that people who could be vulnerable — by the way, they may be impulsive to begin with or explosive — add in technology or a machine and things can go over the top.”

I guess, in Ablow’s mind, if the gentleman had not had a gun, “data rage” would have driven him to bludgeon the texter to death with some Twizzlers, or maybe build a bomb using popcorn butter and other found items.

What truly amazes me is that this is supposed to be an argument, essentially, for letting this man have a gun. I’ll give Dr. Ablow the benefit of the doubt for a minute and pretend “data rage” is really a thing. Isn’t this an issue of mental health, to which the NRA et al are always trying to change the subject? If people are prone to uncontrollable rage in the presence of people texting, what are the public safety implications for gun regulation? Or should I just pack my own heat in case I enrage someone through texting?

Not that I expect a thoughtful or coherent answer to such questions…

Photo credit: By Jacrews7 (Flickr: On The Floor Texting) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.


Cowards with Guns

By Mom's Break [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsIf a bag of popcorn makes you fear for your life to the point that you need to discharge a firearm at the threat, you are a coward who deserves all the ridicule humanity can throw at you.

Photo credit: By Mom’s Break [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


Presenting Rule 01 (for Redneck Accessories)

You may have heard of Rule 34, as defined in xkcd: if you can think of it, there’s probably already porn of it on the internet somewhere.

I saw this on Facebook today, posted by Thomas:

Yes, those are Gun-Nutz, the not-remotely-logical evolution of truck nuts, and they made me realize that we need another rule.

I am therefore proposing Rule 01: if you can think of something tacky, it is probably already available for sale online as a redneck accessory. Continue reading