Monday, July 25, 2016

Thanks To The NRA, On August 1st 2016, The Main Classroom Activity In Texas Will Go From "Show & Tell" To "Duck & Cover"

This blog welcomes the return of John Young after a long absence. However, Young is right on target with this op-ed essay about gun sense and gun nonsense. Irony will reign on the campus of The Unitersity of Texas at Austin: the first of August will mark the 50th anniversary of Charles Whitman's massacre of 49 people (16 fatalities) from the observation deck of the 30-story Main Building Tower overlooking a campus plaza down below. Whitman, the shooter, was a mechanical engineering student and a Marine veteran. It was reported, in the aftermath of the carnage, that Whitman had an IQ of 139, but had mixed success in his studies. On August 1, 1966, he brought a footlocker filled with a number of guns, including rifles, a shotgun, and handguns, to the Tower at UT-Austin. Then, beginning at 11:48 AM, he began shooting at people on the plaza during an approximate 90- to 95-minute period. Whitman was ultimately shot and killed by Austin Police officer Houston McCoy — accompanied by two other officers and a civilian — with a pair of shots (00-buckshot) with his 12-gauge shotgun. Whitman suffered fatal wounds to the head, neck, and left side. After the smoke cleared, there was nary a peep from anyone about open carry making the UT-Austin campus safer. Not a single editorial nor a sanctimonious speech; the NRA was silent. Flash forward to 2015 when the 84th Texas Legislature passed — and Governor Hotwheels signed — Campus (Open) Carry for the UT-Austin campus (in addition to most other public colleges and universities). The law takes effect — wait for it — on August 1, 2016 — just in time for the 50th anniversary of the UT-Austin Massacre. This is what we have come to in a half-century: the response to mass shootings is more guns, not less. If this is a (fair & balanced) lesson that teaches how gun sense has become gun nonsense, so be it.

[x Austin Fishwrap]
Open Carry’s theater Of The Absurd
By John Young

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For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” – Hosea 8-7.

Recent events remind me of the only lasting memory remaining from having poked my head inside a long-ago gun show at the Astrodome:

Metal detectors were at the entrance.

Yes, even a gathering of gun nuts didn’t want nuts with guns joining the day’s congregation.

I use that example to illustrate why people who denounce gun control need to define their terms. After all, stationing metal detectors outside of a gun show clearly is gun control.

But what about our freedoms?

Welcome this week to a national nightmare.

The Trump convention? That’s not exactly what I had in mind. Ah, but coincidentally, what I have in mind is in fact happening in Cleveland, in one of several states, Ohio, that has embraced the insanity of open-carry.

We are seeing heavily armed individuals roaming the convention grounds, people with no badge and no business lugging around killing machines.

The same insanity was on hand – 20 to 30 individuals armed with military-style weapons — when protesters gathered in Dallas to express their concerns and a sick individual with a killing machine took five officers’ lives.

Didn’t it make things safer that silly amateurs were on scene with their ARs and AKs? Yeah, boy.

As a Dallas police spokesman stated, “The challenge was sorting out witnesses from potential suspects. Texas is an open-carry state, and there were a number of armed demonstrators taking part.”

So, no. As police organizations state vigorously. Open-carry can make a crime scene less safe, more confused, more chaotic.

Open-carry is not about safety. It is show-and-tell that causes the class to do duck-and-cover.

In Colorado, where open-carry is a local option and where the right wing controls the city of Colorado Springs, a few months ago a man was advertising his intent to kill people, but a 911 operator told a caller that his walking down the street with a rifle strapped over his shoulder was within his rights.

Then he shot dead two people at random.

Aside from the self-evident safety problem that comes with allowing just anybody to openly brandish firearms is another issue that helps portray the matter in terms that suits its architects.

Open-carry laws are racist.

Maybe they aren’t racist in intent, but, let’s call them structurally racist, de facto racist.

When white people carry openly in an open-carry state, they are not going to be harassed or harmed. However, if a black man openly carries a firearm, he’d better hit the ground before the lead starts flying.

Among all the open-carry activists that night in Dallas, one was black. That man, Mark Hughes, not only was detained by police but was identified by police on Twitter for a short time as the shooting suspect. He’s lucky he’s not dead.

Since they know that many lawmakers will roll over and play dead for the NRA regarding laws like this, a gallant organization called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is calling on retailers to bar open-carry from their premises, as have Target and Texas grocery giant HEB. Kroger is resisting calls to join them.

I like Moms Demand Action’s nomenclature, by the way. Gun control? It’s like the War on Poverty — a hill too far with an unreachable objective. However, gun sense? Every American should demand that of our lawmakers, of our retailers, of our neighbors, of our country.

Gun sense. Open-carry is not about self-defense. It’s about exhibitionism. It’s mostly about the entitlement of a white, fear-making class.

Like our gun policies in general, it couldn’t possibly make us safer. Ω

[After 25 years as opinion editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald, John Young made a change in careers and climates when he and his family moved to Fort Collins, CO, where Young teaches writing at the college level (Front Range Community College, Fort Collins, CO) while continuing to write columns for a national audience. Young received a BA (journalism) from Colorado State University.]

Copyright © 2016 John Young/Austin American-Statesman/Cox Media Group

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