I’ve written extensively on gun violence, spoken on international TV and radio on the subject, and even pursued a gun license in the strictest city of one of the strictest states in the country. Despite my first-hand experience, the most ardent defenders of the Second Amendment — like those who marched on Richmond, Virginia this weekend to protest "Jim Crow" gun laws — will still tell me things like, “We don’t need more laws! We need to enforce the laws on the books!” or “We can’t stop every shooting because that’s just the price of freedom.” Those same #2A Avengers will of course acknowledge that yeah, okay, maybe NICS has some problems, or maybe those Parkland cops should have done something earlier, and then swiftly retreat back into the same tribalistic mindsets that always prevent human progress.
So I wrote this essay, hoping to have a rational conversation. It was originally published on Medium in 2018, but it remains frustratingly relevant, so I'm posting it here.
Naming something gives you power over it.
That’s the basic idea behind all the magic in every folktale dating back for centuries, from “Rumpelstiltskin” to the Rolling Stones’ “Hope you guessed my name.” Ancient shamans didn’t practice “magic”; they just had knowledge, and names for things like “eye of newt” that no one else could understand. To name something is to know it, and knowledge is power.Think about the relationship between “spelling” and “spells” and you won’t be so surprised that Harry Potter has been all over the gun violence conversations lately, on both the Left and the Right—which makes sense, considering that they have a word you memorize and practice reciting in order to kill people. Read the rest
Sandy Hook Promise, an organization dedicated to protecting children from gun violence released a truly chilling Back to School PSA earlier today. Titled "Back to School Essentials," it's a graphic look at the ways children are expected to defend themselves at school because their government refuses to do anything to protect them.
Latest Sandy Hook Promise PSA gives nightmarish look at school shootings (USA Today) (Photo: YouTube screenshot) Read the rest
Edward Gorey's "Gashlycrumb Tinies" is a much-beloved, macabre illustrated children's book that is a favorite of remixers of all kinds; but Mad Magazine's Ghastlygun Tinies dials up the "trenchant" knob to 11.
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Plastic Jesus, the Los Angeles-based street artist behind the "Future Internment Camp" signs and other cool stunts, is back with a new piece. For his latest work, he's droplifted specially-tagged bulletproof vests in the kids' back-to-school section of three Target stores and one Macy’s in Los Angeles.
“Back to school” get everything you need for the new year. Including ‘Bullet Proof Kids™️- Level 3A bullet proof vests. By Plastic Jesus industries . This one at Target . Los Angeles. “Show your child how much you care... Don’t let your child be the next victim... money back guarantee... endorsed by the NRA” Coming to a store near you.
And in Newsweek, he's quoted as saying:
“Good visual communication has to engage people, not switch them off or horrify them. This might be a potential reality. We might be sending our kids to school like this...
We’re finding so many excuses to validate these shooters. Things like video games or bad families are being used to excuse their actions. Seeing shootings so normalized is abhorrent."
“We’re finding so many excuses to validate these shooters. Things like video games or bad families are being used to excuse their actions. Seeing shootings so normalized is abhorrent.”
photos by Plastic Jesus Read the rest
"[Pornography is] available on the shelf when you walk in the grocery store. Yeah, you have to reach up to get it, but there’s pornography there. All of this is available without parental guidance. I think that is a big part of the root cause." -Congresswoman Diane Black [R-TN]
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“Every classroom has been equipped with a five-gallon bucket of river stone," says David Helsel, superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. "If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance into any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full students armed with rocks and they will be stoned."
“At one time I just had the idea of river stone, they`re the right size for hands, you can throw them very hard and they will create or cause pain, which can distract,” said Helsel.
Helsel says teachers, staff and students were given active shooter training through a program known as ALICE which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate and they routinely hold evacuation drills for active shooter simulations.
But if a teacher decides to lockdown a classroom, there are rocks in a five-gallon bucket kept in every classroom closet that students could throw if shooters get inside.
Apparently the school also has an electronic system to lock down the school and they "train kids and talk about barricading the doors," he adds.
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If the GOP and NRA have their way, frequent mass murders of students in classrooms will continue to be the new normal. A South Carolina company called Big 6 has developed an expandable vault that can be installed in classrooms as a place for children (or, as some conservatives call them, "crisis actors") to hide when an active shooter tries to kill them.
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The VAST6 is an innovative collapsible active shooter protection, available for entry in less than 20 seconds and meets FEMA 453 active shooter ballistic requirements and certified F-5 Tornado protection from FEMA P-361 specifications.
When the VAST6 is folded way, it is only 28" thick and takes up limited floor space. The VAST6 unit itself can be scaled to fit just about any class size to make sure there is room for everyone to feel safe and secure.
The ballistic panels meet FEMA Manual 453, National Institute of Justice Level III, and UL 752, Level 8 requirements.
What does that mean? The VAST6 stops .308 ball/7.62 mm rifle lead core full metal copper jacket, military ball, 150 grain at 2,750 feet per second. To put in simply, the VAST6 will stop bullets from pistols, shotguns and semi-automatic rifles such as the AK-47, AR-15 and AR-10. The ballistic material exceeds the protection elements comparable steel. The ballistic panels of the VAST6 will absorb the bullet which will prevent ricochets while at the same time will not spall (flakes of a material that are broken off of the wall when a bullet hits that wall from the other side.
We've certainly heard plenty of reporters and cable news talking heads marble-mouthing their way through "Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School" over the past week. It definitely doesn't want to roll off of the tongue. But who exactly is the school's namesake, Marjory Stoneman Douglas?
Turns out, Marjory Douglas was a bit of a badass in her own right, a writer of some repute who became a relentless advocate for preserving the Florida everglades. She was also an outspoken suffragist and civil rights advocate. She died in 1998 at the age of 108. Read the rest
While a shooter rampaged through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, the school's armed cop (who was a Broward County Sheriff's Deputy) and three of his deputy colleagues were hiding behind a police car outside the school.
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Five people were killed in a school shooting in the northern Saskatchewan community of La Loche, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said late Friday.
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