Friday, July 31, 2015

If Only He'd Had A Gun To Defend Himself. Oh, Wait.... (The Packing Priest)

Rev. Joseph Terra was in the rectory of the Mother of Mercy Mission in Phoenix, Arizona, when he heard a suspicious sound outside in the courtyard.  Instead of calling police, he decided to investigate the sound himself and opened the kitchen door to the outside.

That's when a Gary Michael Moran, 54, an "ex-convict with a history of violence and drug abuse" and "a career criminal, a violent felony offender," pushed his way inside and started beating Terra with a metal rod.  If only Terra had had a gun to defend himself, as recommended by the NRA!  Oh wait, he did!  From an article:

Badly injured, Terra made it to his bedroom and retrieved his .357-caliber gun but was unable to fire before the attacker grabbed it, forced the priest to his knees and demanded money, according to court records.

Terra then blacked out.

When another priest, Rev. Kenneth Walker, came to investigate what was happening, Moran then shot Walker to death with Terra's gun. 

Moran then stole a number of items, including a car, and fled the scene.

When Terra woke up, he found Rev. Walker and performed last rites on him.

Moran was eventually apprehended after tips from people he had bragged to, and DNA evidence:

During the investigation, Terra was only able to provide a limited description of the suspect, but detectives said they were later able to link Moran to the crime scene through DNA. 
Witnesses also helped authorities identify Moran. 
On Sunday, a man came to the police station to report that he had heard Moran "was bragging about beating a priest and robbing him," according to court records. 
A day later, a woman told police Moran had given her a black bag that contained the priest's camera.
Too bad Terra had a gun.  Rev. Walker might be alive otherwise.  Beatings with blunt force objects, such as metal rods, only have a death rate less than 5%, whereas being shot has a death rate up around 85%.

And in case you were wondering why a priest would have a gun, particularly in a church called "Mother of Mercy," the article had this to say:
Police confirmed that Terra's gun was used to shoot Walker. 
Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted said over the weekend that the question of gun ownership among priests has not been a topic of discussion and isn't prohibited by the church. 
"There are some priests that go hunting for javelina, and for deer and for elk," Olmsted said. "So there would be some (gun owners), but it's not a question that I generally ask priests."
But it wasn't a rifle that Terra had in his room.  It was a handgun -- as in for self-defense.  Having a gun around to kill someone doesn't sound very "godly" to me.  Others have questioned the validity of priests having guns, as a result of this case.

Just another example of how owning a gun does not guarantee your safety and can actually increase your chances of dying.

If Only He'd Had A Gun To Defend Himself. Oh, Wait.... (Like Father Like Son)

James Johnson was at the funeral home he owns in North Carolina when his son, Garcia Johnson, arrived, armed with a handgun, and the two had a confrontation.  The argument, apparently over who would perform a funeral, escalated into a shootout with multiple shots fired.  The father was shot multiple times and wasn't expected to survive at first.

The son eventually turned himself in.

Too bad the father wasn't armed with a gun, too, as the NRA says it would have protected him.  Oh wait...  he was!  From an article and news video:

WFMY News 2 has learned James Johnson was armed when he was shot. Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer says police took a gun out of the father's hand when they got to the shooting scene Friday.
Additionally, since the father was armed, the son isn't being charged with attempted murder, but rather a lesser charge, as well as a lower bail bond:

After speaking with Johnson's attorneys, Blitzer agreed to a lowered bond of $200,000 [from $1-million]. Johnson must also wear a GPS monitoring device.
The main reason why Blitzer says he agreed to a lower bond is because Garcia's father also had a gun. He says that fact is also the reason why Garcia is not charged with attempted murder. He is charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Kill.
"If there was no firearm in the father's hand, there would have been an Attempted Murder charge," said Craig Blitzer, Rockingham County District Attorney.

Guns don't solve problems, and having a gun on you doesn't mean you are safer.  In fact, it may escalate the situation from an argument to a shootout.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

If Only He'd Had A Gun To Defend Himself. Oh, Wait .... (Pastor And Former Policeman)

69-year old Don Frazier, a pastor and former policeman in Harris County, Texas, was in bed with his wife on the Fourth of July when he heard a suspicious noise downstairs.

Instead of calling police, Don decided to get his loaded handgun and go downstairs to investigate.

That's when he encountered the unarmed burglar, Daniel Durham.  The two fought, and Durham took the gun from the pastor, made him beg for his life, then shot him dead and fled the scene.

From an article:
Sheriff s deputies said the preacher and his wife heard a noise downstairs in their garage it was the sound of their generator turning on. Deputies said when the preacher went down to investigate, somehow Durham managed to take the homeowner s gun.
Deputies said Durham told them the pastor was on the floor begging for his life and that s when Durham pulled the trigger and shot Frazier in the head.
Frazier s wife heard the shooting and called 911 as Durham fled.
Area residents heard the gunshots, but some said they thought they were fireworks.
Every life is precious, and Mr. Frazier did not deserve to die.  But it makes me wonder what would have happened if he had called the police instead of confronting the burglar.  And if Frazier hadn't been armed with a gun, would the burglar have still killed him?

One thing is certain, though:  having a loaded gun did not help him that night.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Weapons According To The "Tao Te Ching"

"Weapons are the tools of violence. All decent men detest them. Therefore, followers of the Tao never use them. Arms serve evil. They are tools of those who oppose wise rule. Use them only as a last resort. For peace and quiet are dearest to the decent man's heart, and to him even a victory is no cause for rejoicing. He who thinks triumph beautiful is one with a will to kill, and one with a will to kill shall never prevail upon the world. It's a good sign when man's higher nature comes forward. A bad sign when his lower nature comes forward. With the slaughter of multitudes, we have grief and sorrow. Every victory is a funeral; when you win a war, you celebrate by mourning." 

- Verse 31 of the Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu, 6th century BC


Monday, July 27, 2015

Music: "Guns & The Crazy Ones" by Danny Schmidt

From the songwriter and musician, Danny Schmidt:  "Regardless of your take on how best to control gun violence (and I have friends on both sides of the table), I think we can all agree that there's way too much of it in this country. This song and video were inspired by the emotional fatigue of seeing tragic headlines and devastated faces in the news, day after day after day after day . . ."


Seems to me it's just as plain as please
It's plastered the news
Cause every day there's a new display
Of cannons come loose

Once was tough, two's a called bluff, three's enough's enough
Four was cruel, five's a dead school, six is like they're gunning for you

So tell me this, when the spirit slips
And can't hardly stand
What will it grasp if it falls too fast 
I hope just a hand

But if not, if the shell's shocked, if there's no angels near
If fury finds that in the chambered mind, there's just bullets and steel

So blame the guns or blame the crazy ones
It's almost the same
Cause in the home of the free and brave
These tools are insane

The best dirt on the free earth and we can't shake our pride
We're two sides of a mudslide, and we're both buried alive

So tell me now, tell me anyhow
When will it end?
Cause every time it's a friend of mine
The ghosts and the men

It seems to me it's just as plain as please

Thursday, July 23, 2015

At Least Four Mass Shootings In A Week, And What Is The Pro-Gun Response? Vigilante Justice, And More Guns, Of Course.

(UPDATED -- See below)

The daily carnage from gun violence in America is absolutely heartbreaking to me.

Yet another mass shooting.
As I sit down to write this, I overhear on CNN that there had been yet another mass shooting.  This time it was in Lafayette, Louisiana, where a man stood up in a crowded movie theater and opened fire, killing 2 innocent people, injuring at least ten others, and then killing himself.  Details are still emerging, but the shooter is described as a "drifter" with a previous arson conviction and severe mental health problems and far-right, anti-government views.  How does a nutcase get guns like this?  Another day in America.

It was only 6 days ago that another movie-shooter, James Holmes, was ruled "Guilty" for the shooting in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 and injuring 70.  Did today's lunatic NRA supporter of the day fancy himself as notorious as Holmes?

And yesterday, in Georgia, there was also a murder/suicide shooting at a home, claiming five lives.
Mass shooting victims Jacob and Jared Smith (source)
  Two of the victims were young boys, ages 8 and 9, Jacob and Jared Smith.  The father shot his wife, her father, the two sons, and then himself.  I'll bet you didn't hear about that one, either. Shootings like this are "wallpaper" in our nation, so common that it's immediately forgettable by many.

In the past week there have been at least two other mass shootings that I'm aware of (I was helping my Mom move last week, so it's possible I missed others).  One was in Maine, where a convicted sex offender shot five people and then went on the run before getting caught.  Two of the victims died.  That mass shooting hardly made national news; we have so many shootings in our nation that you probably didn't notice it.  Remember the shooting at a church in Charleston just last month?  It has already fallen from the national consciousness.  Chances are you've already forgotten the names of the shooter and victims.

The other mass shooting today made all the national papers.  Another mentally ill young man, of Jordanian descent, armed with an AK-47 automatic assault rifle, shotgun, and handgun, opened fire on a military recruiter office in Chattanooga, Tennessee, firing at the door from his car.  Luckily no one was injured.  He then drove to a Marine and Navy reserve station, rammed through a gate with his car, and opened fire again.  Police responded.  There was a shootout.

When the bullets stopped flying, four Marines lay dead, a police officer was wounded, and a Navy sailor was critically injured.  The shooter was killed.  The Navy sailor later died from his injuries.

The dead military members were identified as Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells, of Cobb, Georgia; Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, of Hampden, Massachusetts; Sgt. Carson Holmquist, of Polk, Wisconsin, and Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, of Burke, North Carolina; and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith.

Some of these Marines and Sailors were veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Some were decorated, including one who had two Purple Heart medals.  It's a sad statement that they should survive tours of duty in a foreign war zone only to be shot to death here in America by a deranged citizen.

As always, statements were made by the politicians, including our President, by families of the victims, by gun violence prevention organizations, and even by the family of the shooter.  Prayers were made.  A "hero fund" was establishedFlowers were placedA city mourned.  Flags were ordered to half-staff.  And the victims were memorialized and buried.  But as sentimental and valid as these actions are, NONE of these actions will do anything to keep guns out of the hands of the next deranged killer.

The gun guys had their own ideas of solutions though.  Naturally, those solutions have nothing to do whatsoever with keeping guns out of the wrong hands.  Their solutions:  be vigilantes, and more guns!

It's like a broken record.  They cry that everyone should be armed, like them. The NRA led the way, calling for the military to allow recruiters to arm themselves.
"It's outrageous that members of our armed services have lost their lives because the government has forced them to be disarmed in the workplace," said Chris Cox, the leader of the NRA's legislative and political shop.
Pro-gun politicians soon chimed in.  But they seem to forget that the Department of Defense itself, in charge of our military, made a policy against this back in 2011, In DoD Directive 5210.56.  In their expert opinion, it isn't reasonable to arm all servicemen in all places.  We aren't in a state of war within our borders, and we don't have enemies at our gates.  One Army recruiter has some sage advice:
Scott Rogers, who worked as a US Army recruiter in Wisconsin from 2008 to 2011, has a different take on the subject.
“Soldiers are the best at what they do, but not all are trained to handle weapons on a daily basis,” Rogers said.
“What many people fail to realize that not all soldiers are combat soldiers. In fact I would venture to say a majority of them are not,” Rogers said.
“What many people fail to realize is that unless you are in a combat arms occupational specialty…you only qualify with your weapon once a year and for many soldiers they do not even do that. I retired in 2012 and had not fired a M-16 since 2007 because of my time as a recruiter.”
Perhaps, too, the DoD was concerned about the vets themselves, given the staggering rate of veteran suicides.  22 U.S. military vets commit suicide a day.  70% are by gun, and 85% of attempts are fatal (compared to only 5% by other means).

But for all those gun guys shouting that the military members should have been armed... Surprise!  Two of them were armed and shot back at the shooter

A Navy officer and a Marine fired their sidearms hoping to kill or subdue the gunman who murdered five service members last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to multiple military officials familiar with internal reporting on the tragedy.

But call for arming the recruiters wasn't enough for some pro-gun extremists and "militia" members.  They decided to become vigilantes and "stand guard" in front of recruiter stations with openly-carried rifles, in various locations across the U.S.

There was one here today, in my home town of Eugene.  An old man who looks to be about 90,
Vigilante "guard" at Eugene military recruiter station
wielding an AK-47 with dual magazines and sporting a super-cool set of eye-dilation sunglasses. There is also a news report that the extremist III% militia group (which the article calls a "club") had armed members standing outside a recruiting station in Portland.

Others in many other states were doing the same, responding to the call of extremist, insurrectionist militia groups like the Oathkeepers and the Three Percenters.  They don't care that the recruiters want them to leave.  Nor do they care that they are scaring people.  From an article:

“I can’t see why any red-blooded American wouldn’t want to be out here,” Fitzpatrick, a member of a local militia, told the paper. “Our troops go overseas and fight to protect us and then they can come home and get butchered on our U.S. soil? That’s unacceptable. So until these places get their own protection, I’ll be it for them.”
Well, I'm a red-blooded American, and I can say that I can see plenty of reasons for him to go back to fondling his guns in his own home.

For one thing, having a yahoo like him, with unknown background, motives, or training hanging out with his finger next to the trigger of an assault rifle represents to me an accident waiting to happen, at best, or an outright mass murderer in the making, at the worst.

The military itself thinks the same as me.  The Army sent a notice to its recruiters telling them to treat these "guards" as a security threat.

Recruiting center and hole left by gun extremist (source)
And then it happened.  Today, one of these armed "guards," named Christopher Reed, was standing outside a recruiter station in Ohio, assault rifle in hand, when he unintentionally fired the weapon.  Oopsie!  Perhaps this is the "security threat" that the Army was talking about?  Luckily, the round he fired only hit the asphalt, leaving a distinct hole, and no one was injured -- this time.  Don't worry, gun guys, it's only a misdemeanor.  His gun was only taken away temporarily.  In a few weeks he'll be free to have more accidents with it, thanks to our loose gun laws.

Doubt me? Well, surprise!, this isn't the first time he's had an accident with his gun!  From an article:

Reed was convicted of the same offense in 2013, and was fined $50, court records show.

That's right, he was only fined $50.  A slap on the wrist.  Naturally, this self-described unemployed "gun enthusiast" downplays this most recent endangerment of the public, as if it were no big deal at all:

Reed said he is not a military veteran. He described himself as an active gun enthusiast who makes a living working side jobs.

He downplayed what happened. “It is what it is,” he said. “Nobody got hurt.”

This time...

Well, "it is what it is" all right.  What "it is" is a nation with incredibly lax gun laws and too many guns in dangerous hands... like those of Christopher Reed.

Just moments ago, an hour after sundown as I finished this blog post, I heard a series of gunshots ring out within just a few miles of my home.  Let's hope it isn't yet another shooting.  What has our nation come to?  Even if vigilantism were the answer, the gun guys can't stand vigil at every home, every movie theater, every school and military recruiter.  More guns is not the answer.  Our leaders need to do something, and do it now, to keep guns out of the wrong hands!

UPDATE (7/24/15):  The Marine Corps and the Department of Defense have also issued a statement saying that they do not support armed individuals "guarding" recruiters, and the Navy put out a statement that if any armed yahoos show up outside, their recruiters will leave the office for other duties until those people leave.  How many ways can they say "Go away!" to these gun loons?

Also, HERE is more on the Lafayette shooter, John Russell Houser, 59, and his long history of radical, far-right extremism, mental illness, and threatening and criminal behavior.  HERE is additional information on his unstable, far-right views, including his admiration of Hitler and the KKK, his Obama-hatred, and his belief that America is "the enemy of the world."

UPDATE (7/28/15):  We are averaging one mass shooting EVERY DAY in 2015!!  From an article:
The Mass Shootings Tracker, a crowd-sourced tally of mass shootings maintained by the GunsAreCool subreddit, shows that we haven't gone more than eight days without a mass shooting in the U.S. since the start of 2015 -- that doesn't leave a lot of time to grieve and regroup between shootings. We've averaged exactly one mass shooting per day since the start of the year. Forty eight days saw more than one mass shooting take place. On 18 days there were at least 3 shootings. On three days this year -- April 18, June 13 and July 15 -- there have been five shootings.
Addendum (9/1/15):  HERE is another article pointing out that we average a mass shooting every day in America..

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Music: "Shots" by Imagine Dragons

"Shots" by Imagine Dragons

I'm sorry for everything
Oh, everything I've done

Am I out of touch?
Am I out of my place?
When I keep saying that I'm looking for an empty space
Oh, I'm wishing you're here
But I'm wishing you're gone
I can't have you and I'm only gonna do you wrong

Oh, I'm going to mess this up
Oh, this is just my luck
Over and over and over again

I'm sorry for everything
Oh, everything I've done
From the second that I was born it seems I had a loaded gun
And then I shot, shot, shot a hole through everything I loved
Oh, I shot, shot, shot a hole through every single thing that I loved

Am I out of luck?
Am I waiting to break?
When I keep saying that I'm looking for a way to escape
Oh, I'm wishing I had what I'd taken for granted
I can't help you when I'm only gonna do you wrong

Oh, I'm going to mess this up
Oh, this is just my luck
Over and over and over again

I'm sorry for everything
Oh, everything I've done
From the second that I was born it seems I had a loaded gun
And then I shot, shot, shot a hole through everything I loved
Oh, I shot, shot, shot a hole through every single thing that I loved

In the meantime we let it go
At the roadside
We used to know
We can let this drift away
Oh, we let this drift away
At the bay side
You used to show
In the moonlight
We let it go
We can let this drift away
Oh, we let this drift away

And there's always time to change your mind
Oh, there's always time to change your mind
Oh, love, can you hear me?
Oh, let it drift away

I'm sorry for everything
Oh, everything I've done
From the second that I was born it seems I had a loaded gun
And then I shot, shot, shot a hole through everything I loved
Oh, I shot, shot, shot a hole through every single thing that I loved

In the meantime we let it go
At the roadside
We used to know
We can let this drift away
Oh, we let this drift away
At the bay side
You used to show
In the moonlight
We let it go
We can let this drift away
Oh, we let this drift away

And there's always time to change your mind
Oh, there's always time to change your mind
Oh, love, can you hear me?
Oh, let it drift away