Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Plenty of gun violence at home and abroad

Post by Brian O'Neill on July 25, 2011 at 10:32 am with 21 Comments »
July 28, 2011 10:22 pm

Whether you were reading the local or world news, it was a nasty weekend for gun violence.

Most recent was the domestic violence-related shooting at the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, which happened Sunday morning at 1:30AM and left seven people wounded. Backing up ten hours from that point, at least a dozen people were shot during a car show in Kent on Saturday afternoon. And in perhaps the unlikeliest corner of the world to experience gun violence, residents of Oslo experienced a Friday that will surely stain the Norwegian psyche for years to come.

Are you numb, yet?

That sensation could describe the initial reaction of many Americans to these atrocities, especially the one-man jihad in Norway. Violence on this magnitude is difficult to process, despite a decade of combat operations overseas. Though we have spent the ensuing years since 9/11 keeping pace with the high body count resulting from IED attacks, we somehow balance our reaction to these numbers by the locations at which they occur, such as Iraq or Afghanistan.

It does seem reasonable to expect casualties when you send a large number of soldiers and weaponry into a war zone.  But this weekend’s violence was clearly different. Instead of Baghdad, Kabul or Kandahar, we read about Auburn, Kent and Oslo.

Unlike the War Against Terror (at least the Islamic fundamenalist version), the shooters in these incidents appeared to be motivated by petty jealousy (domestic violence), a distorted version of respect (gang violence) and fringe politics (let’s call this mental issues). So, either we need to redefine our notions of war, or we need to figure out some way to take guns out of the hands of would-be shooters.

Clearly it’s a little late to redefine war, which Webster describes as “a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations.” Since nations, rebel groups and religious fundamentalists have usurped the term, we are left with the more mundane, but equally complicated word: crime.

Now that the aforementioned incidents have a definition, let’s move onto the answer. Note: if you are holding your breath until I provide you with a plausible remedy for gun violence in our society, then I welcome you to exhale. If you’ll pardon the levity on this most serious of topics, if I knew that answer I would be currently penning my acceptance speech to the Nobel Peace Prize committee.

While the greatest minds struggle with the the infinite realms of space, the building blocks of our bodies’ DNA, and the dilemma of global warming, our society’s version of the common cold–gun crime–remains an unanswered question.  That is an answer we must continue to seek.

In the wake of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan we passed the Brady Bill. In the aftermath of 9/11 (not a gun crime, but a security breach nonetheless) we made our airports into a hampster maze. It seems as though we are always reading the words, “in the wake of…” or “in the aftermath…” which describe half-hearted or even futile attempts to shut the door after a shooter has already left the building.

Now that Scandinavia has joined the growing list of countries reeling from gun violence it is time to accept that the plague of gun crime, whether it stems from domestic violence, greed, gang activity or the single-minded actions of a lunatic, is a global problem.

If the answer is out there, we need to do a better job of finding it.

 

 

Leave a comment Comments → 21
  1. BlaineCGarver says:

    Snap your fingers, and poof, all the guns in the world disappear. NewsFlash: Man with Samari Sword kills twenty at Muckleshoots before being subdued by brave soul with a baseball bat. I can see you still favor gun ownership for only a elite few, and LEOs.

  2. Perhaps at this point we should wise up and redefine, again, the 2nd
    Amendment. And perhaps not so lightly go into war. I’ve seen clowns
    with concealed weapons permits.

  3. Brian O'Neill says:

    Blaine,

    I appreciate your point of view, but I find it to be a very narrow one. Like many other readers of this column you harbor a passion for gun rights, a right I will not dispute. However, to suggest that the fantasy of removing all the guns from the world wouldn’t solve the problem suggests a false choice. Clearly that is not going to happen, but just as clear is the notion that the Oslo shooter, at the very least, would never have been able to create a body count remotely as high if he were not in possession of a semi-auto rifle.

    All of that is beside the point, at least for now.

    This is not a simple issue. Controlling gun violence crosses many lines, borders, political viewpoints and career fields. But if we are to look at the horrific events in Oslo as our example, to do nothing and cavalierly suggest that the status quo is good enough, then we are simply part of the problem.

  4. gogoDawgs says:

    “You can’t stop insane people, from doing insane things, by passing insane laws.” ~Penn Jillette

  5. Brian O'Neill says:

    Penn Jillette also said, “What I have a problem with is not so much religion or god, but faith. When you say you believe something in your heart and therefore you can act on it, you have completely justified the 9/11 bombers.”

    He’s a comedian, for crying out loud. Probably not the person you want to rely on for a solution to future massacres.

  6. smokey984 says:

    So here goes my narrow point of view as well…excuse the lack of writing comprehension on my part.

    The fact he was in possession of a semi auto rifle doesn’t matter. Guns will always be available, even if outlawed, from the black market. The police don’t carry weapons in that county is pure insanity…and i cant even begin to fathom the appeasement to the actual prevention of an evil act.

    A 90 minute response time was a HUGE factor. Oh gee since im not in possession of my dept. issued firearm, let me drive back to the station and get permission from the Chief to check it out at the armory. Ok now we can go fight bad guys!

    Link for their incompetence here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/26/world/europe/26police.html

    there’s no way to get there? we have to wait for a helicopter or a boat…Great contingency planning boys. Bravo! But lets not blame the incompetence of local authorities…that would be to easy. To actually hold people accountable who are incompetent! Imagine that!…I’m sure they will find someone to blame besides themselves. And of course, it goes without saying, the shooter should be shot in the head. 21 years if convicted..WOW. Good job boys, its no wonder you were occupied in WWII.

    Lets blame it on what it really is…There are bad people in this world. and regardless of the county you live in, weapons laws, a million police with guns, or 75 million citizens with at least one gun in the house(American stats), when one chooses violence guns are always available.

    And as a defender of society maybe we/they/she/me should plan for such things? And maybe if a hand full of folks on that island utilized the right to protect himself/herself with personal weapons…after all who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men.

    BTW…Its absolutely dishonest journalism for the left leaning establishments to brand him a Christian fundamentalist when there’s absolutely no proof he was at this point. But i do love the Christian community coming out and condemning this violence, wish i could say the same thing for the Muslim community, but they never do.

  7. And the murders in Grand Prairie, TX. should be added to this death count this week.

    For the record, I support the 2nd amendment.

  8. BlaineCGarver says:

    Brian, I’ll have to disagree, Sir…..Homemade bombs, knives and swords could plow thru a crowd just as good or better than rifle. As radical Muz have proven, you don’t need, and actually prefer not to use, rifles in favor of WDMs. BTW, I also “harbor” an intense feeling for the constitution, in toto, as it was first written and intended by the Founding Fathers, and confirmed in the Federalist Papers.
    Do you take ride-arounds? I’d love to pick your brain.

  9. gogoDawgs says:

    Brian,

    You did not discredit Penn Jillette by his former statement. His statement that I quoted demonstrates a factual point. You can not take away more freedoms and eradicate insane people.

    We must all simply accept that we choose to live in a free society. In a free society their are inherit risks and there is evil and there is great joy. Part of living in a free society is that we must accept responsibility for our actions. There are things in a free society that people will always not like and will always be opposed to and never agree upon, we must learn to accept that and yet choose to live together in peace and respect. We must accept that their is evil in the world, and that will not change no matter how much those in government believe they can control people.

  10. smokey984 says:

    and to go even further…this post concerning the incidents may even be wrong because it fans the flames of emotion. And naturally everyone runs to make a decision based upon the emotion of the moment. Decisions based upon the emotion of the moment are almost always wrong.

    Look back on your life and our society where you made a decision right after a set of circumstances presented themselves or a body of politicians made a new law/ordinance because of it. An emotional decision without sound reason and thought.

    Excluding of course..On the flip side sometimes circumstances dictate a decision right here and now.

  11. Brian O'Neill says:

    Gogodawgs–that was the most depressing, hopeless statement I have ever heard. Free society or not, when we fail to even attempt to defend the most defenseless members of our society then we certainly fail the test of civilization.

  12. Brian O'Neill says:

    Blaine,

    Would enjoy the discussion, but my workday does not allow for much chit-chat. If you’re looking for a ride-along, however, I recommend your local PD or Sheriff’s office. That’s usually a perk reserved for the people who are served by the host agency.

  13. So, brian, you’re depressed because we can’t defend our most helpless members of society? How can you be a LEO then? You don’t “defend” anything, you react. If you’re a “defender” you (and all LEOs) must really be terrible at your job, because crime continues to happen in our society. Cops aren’t paid to be proactive, they show up 10 minutes later (if you’re lucky) to draw chalk outlines and take statements from witnesses. Perhaps you catch the bad guy, only to have the courts release him the next day because the Jails are overcrowded and society has a terrible case of NIMBY when it comes to building more jails and prisons. 95% of gun violence in the US is committed by career criminals.

    I have this really novel idea, how about we give our most helpless members of society the tools they need to defend themselves?

  14. smokey984 says:

    Thats a great idea Gandalf! Tools to defend themselves..and some annual self-awareness training, personal observation skills classes(you know what to look for in criminal pre-crime behavior) etc etc…

  15. gogoDawgs says:

    Brian,

    Really…this is “the most depressing, hopeless statement I have ever heard.”

    How is having faith in freedom depressing and hopeless?

    Furthermore, I never said anything about not helping the “most defenseless” members of society. You did, thereby creating a false straw man argument. Nice try but that dog doesn’t hunt. Your article about a gang shooting is clearly not about the “most defenseless” members of society. Kudos to Gandalf in his point about you do not protect the defenseless. In addition the Supreme Court has ruled at least a dozen times that it is not the job of the police to protect the individual citizen, but rather society at large. I appreciate your job, but do not mislead citizens into believing that it is the job of you or the government to protect them.

  16. Brian O'Neill says:

    To Protect and to Serve. That’s the oath we take, and that’s what people–perhaps not everyone, but most people–expect us to do. Pretty simple.

  17. Brian O'Neill says:

    Gandalf,

    It is quite true that much of police work is reactive, but that is far from all of it. I am not assigned to 911 calls, and myself and many other officers like me spend all of our time actively seeking out crimes in progress, if not before. Also, I would bet that, if cops suddenly abandoned the streets, the word most uttered would be “defenseless.”

    I have met and provided police service to many people over the years, and I can only point out that the vast majority do not share your stated opinion.

  18. If it is true that Police in Norway do not carry guns as ( smokey984says ) indicated, it’s because violent crime in that country is so rare, that guns in the hands of police are unnecessary, unlike here in the States. Having lived in Middle Eastern countries and in Asia, I have been able to walk safely in those countries at anytime of day or night and feel safe. They have fewer guns. Or is it that they are more peaceful?
    The only solution here is to reduce the number of guns in the streets, I believe you know it . Simplisticaly, more cars on the road equals more moving violations, the more guns in the street, the more gun crime will be seen.

  19. smokey984 says:

    Disagree. Guns will always be available no matter what laws are in place. And thats just the way it is. With that being said, let each individual be responsable for making that decision.

  20. As the saying goes…”why do I carry a gun? Because I can’t carry a cop”. While I am a big supporter of our LEOs, I’m also a realist. Unless the city/state is able to park a cop on every street corner in america, you’ll never be able to “protect” everyone. I’m also of the opinion that I don’t think I’d WANT a cop on every street corner, that certainly smacks of a police state, don’t you think?

    Ultimately, everyone is responsible for their own safety. The seattle police department, for example, has 1200 officers to cover a population of over 600,000. Even a best case scenario where every single one of those officers was patrolling the streets 24/7, that’s 1 officer for every 500 citizens. A more realistic number is 1 in 2000 or worse. I’m sorry, but those are lousy odds. I’m also not rich enough to hire my own phalanx of bodyguards.

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