Domestic Terrorism

The story about the Tennessee shooter, Jim D. Adkisson, who killed 2 people in a Knoxville church, has been all over the news. According to dday over at Hullabaloo, the government is dropping the ball in addressing this kind of thing for what it is, domestic terrorism.

I suspect we’re going to hear a whole lot about how the Bush Administration has kept us safe from attacks on US soil. Except that this is also terrorism, designed to terrorize and intimidate a particular sect or group, and instead of paying attention to right-wing domestic extremists, the White House has directed its homeland security efforts at peace groups and Quakers.

The Huffington Post has the details including the letter the killer left explaining his actions.

A four-page letter found in Jim D. Adkisson’s small SUV indicated he intentionally targeted the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church because, the police chief said, “he hated the liberal movement” and was upset with “liberals in general as well as gays.”

I’ve written about guns before, basically talking about handguns, but perhaps shotguns should be included. What’re they for anyway? Hunting? Protecting the home and family? The problem seems to be when these lethal weapons get into the wrong hands, whether those are the hands of a ghetto drug addict or an unhinged right wing bigot, we’ve got trouble. I say the fewer guns the better.

I’d love to hear your opinion. Please feel free to leave a comment.

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11 Comments on “Domestic Terrorism”

  1. Bob S. Says:

    Mike,

    So you want fewer guns, does that mean the police should give up their firearms also?

    Perhaps it is not the firearms that is the issue but how they are used.I would say there are two types of violence- predatory and protectionary.

    The difference is the intent of the violence: it doesn’t matter what weapons are used; be it a club, a human hand, a tire iron, a shotgun or handgun. Why was it being used matters. If the intent is to deprive someone of life, limb or property, isn’t that the problem?
    Does being beaten to death with a baseball bat have a higher moral standing then being shot?

    We currently have literally thousands of laws addressing violence and crime but too often the laws are not enforced and the consequences are a slap on the wrist.

    Protectionary violence is often needed to keep that life, limb and property from those who would take what they haven’t worked for. Should we allow those who don’t follow the law to run rampant over those that do? When all else fails, there has to be a force that stops the law breakers. Taking away firearms puts those who would use protectionary violence at a disadvantage. The bad guys can always get more people to help, attack the weak, etc.
    Should my 70 year old dad have to try to fight off bare handed a much younger person who wants his wallet? How about the females that are on average disadvantage with less upper body strength, should they have to use unarmed combat to defeat a rapist or just give in?

  2. Weer'd Beard Says:

    “The problem seems to be when these lethal weapons get into the wrong hands, whether those are the hands of a ghetto drug addict or an unhinged right wing bigot, we’ve got trouble.”

    You focus on the gun…not on the “Wrong Hands”

    For a hyperbolic example look at the Prisons. What’s the Murder and violent crime rate there? HUGE. Yet there are NO guns (Even the guards don’t carry in most prisons) and even more mundane weapons are heavily restricted….such as metal forks and knives.

    Yet make-shift weapons out of peices of scrap metal, soda cans, plastic tools like tooth brushes, peices of rope ect as well as your standard issues hands and feet are used to kill and maim behind the walls of prison every day.

    This is a software issue, not a hardware issue. Focusing on the tools creeps use when we should be focusing on the creeps themselves is a waste of resources.

  3. radbrad Says:

    The “wrong hands” can kill more people with a gun than with a baseball bat. Australia’s murder rate has dramatically decreased since their gun ban a few years ago. The homicidal nuts just can’t seem to kill as many people with bats as they could with guns.

  4. mikeb302000 Says:

    Dear Bob S., Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your coming by. Your first question I would answer in the negative. No, I don’t advocate disarming law enforcement people. In fact, perhaps they should be better armed and they could better provide the protection needed. I don’t pretend to be an expert on gun control advocacy, but I think we’d have less violence if there were fewer weapons out there.

    Dear Weer’d Beard, Thanks to you for coming by too. Your comment about the software / hardware thing sounds good but I don’t think it holds water. Using your own example of the prisons, what if guns were readily available in there? Don’t you think there’d be a helluva lot more violence than there is now? If the answer is yes, doesn’t it follow that if in society at large guns were next to impossible to come by, like in prisons, wouldn’t there be a lot less violence?

  5. Bob S. Says:

    Mike,

    Thanks for keeping an open blog and mind about this. Consider what you said, you don’t want to disarm the cops but increase their armament; the question becomes why?

    Because law enforcement uses their weapons in defense, as I stated protectionary violence. It’s not the weapon used in violence that is the problem, but type of violence. This is something that isn’t addressed often. The people that tackled the Knoxville church shooter used violence, should they have stood by and let the shooter continue?
    Would there have been more or less violence if people hadn’t reacted?

    Is it really protectionary violence that we want to stop? According to you no, because you don’t want to disarm the cops. See England for what happens when the cops are disarmed.

    Also, the statistics do not support your claim of less guns less violence. Here are some statistics from a website – http://www.nationmaster.com.
    Assaults
    #6 United States: 7.56923 per 1,000 people
    #7 New Zealand: 7.47881 per 1,000 people
    #8 United Kingdom: 7.45959 per 1,000 people
    #9 Canada: 7.11834 per 1,000 people
    #10 Australia: 7.02459 per 1,000 people

    Mexico has very strict gun control laws, but the drug crimes keep the homicide rates high
    Firearm Homicide Rate
    #7 Mexico: 3.6622
    #8 United States: 3.6

    Overall homicide rates
    #6 Mexico: 17.7735
    #14 United States: 9.1
    #27 Australia: 1.8802

    Australia, England, Canada have historically had less crime and crime rates then the USA but let’s look at the trends
    This link (sorry info in graphs) shows that the crime rates in England are climbing, not decreasing as they increase their gun control laws and now even knife control laws.
    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/html/cjusew96/crvs.htm — this is from victim surveys
    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/html/cjusew96/crpr.htm – this is from police reports.

    Will there be less “gun violence” if we could magically get rid of all the guns, yes. Does that mean violence as a whole would decrease, not likely. Criminals will commit violence to get what they want, be it with a firearm, a baseball bat, knife or car. To answer your question to Beard, the efficiency of the violence would increase not the level.

    So the question becomes do we want to have less violence or just less predatory violence? Would you defend yourself or your family from a shooter, a mugger, a rapist? I would, removing the means to protect my family or myself effective only benefits the criminals.

  6. mikeb302000 Says:

    I’m with you, Rad Brad.

  7. Weer'd Beard Says:

    “The “wrong hands” can kill more people with a gun than with a baseball bat. ”

    Absolutely true, this is why I’m in full support of the NICS check system, and the majority of the restrictions outlined in the GCA 40 years ago
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_Control_Act

    But in the end, through nature, “Wrong Hands” don’t follow the rules (if they did they wouldn’t be bad!) so dispite the laws outlined so long ago, at least 90% of the gun crime in this country is in direct violation of those two laws (Maybe we should enforce these laws…or repeal them before adding superfluous laws to the books) .

    But yeah, the bad guys can do a LOT more damage with guns as opposed to say knives (though the UK’s current plight with knife violence shows that most people don’t give a shit if they were murdered with a knife or a gun, or a bomb….dead is dead, and being dead sucks!)

    But there is another side to this. In auto accidents occupants of a standard-sized car have a higher chance of death if in an accident with an SUV. You could say “You can do a lot more damage with an SUV than a car”, and you’d be right. But why do Soccer Mom’s so often drive SUVs? One big reason is saftey. You get in a crash with an SUV (be it another vehicle….or a tree) chances of death to occupants is much lower.

    Guns are like that. Yeah I could kill somebody with a baseball bat, or one of my wife’s kitchen knives, but it would be a little more work and risk to me as knives and clubs depend a LOT more on physical strength than guns…..so what if I’m up against somebody stronger…somebody who wants to do me harm?

    Compound that by changing me to my wife. She isn’t very strong or quick at all, we’re both scientists, we’ve spent our lives with noses buried in books, or doing research in labs. Meanwhile I know lots of people who’ve spent their time settling disputes with their fists, rather than their words.

    If somebody like that decided they wanted my wallet….or to rape my wife, there really isn’t much a lab rats like us can do.

    That is just Us ALONE. I can’t lug a heavy bookshelf very far at all…I can maybe get it down to the end of the street if I have some help….but I hauled one 100 miles the other day. How? I put it in the bed of my pickup truck. I can’t break the trunk of a tree, even a small one, but I did that the other day too, I used a saw. I can’t get a very good grip or torque on a screw embedded in wood, but I do that all the time with a screwdriver. (I’ll also have you know ALL of the above tools can and have been used as tools of murder as well)

    When it comes to somebody deciding that they want to enact violence upon me (and I can’t just walk away, which, of course, is the preferable solution…but I won’t RUN from a threat, as I’m not a runner, which means that running from a threat likely means my attacker can run faster and I’ve essentially just exposed my back to a known threat…bad idea. But if I can walk away, I will, and I have) but if I’m in a fight, I likely won’t win without tools, the tool is the personal firearm.

    This isn’t just for the “Street” (though I live in a very good neighborhood…but I, like most travel) but for my home. That’s not a huge issue, as my town has very low crime….but things can change:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/12/07/do0702.xml
    “But the trouble is that this kind of burglary – the kind most likely to go “wrong” – is now the norm in Britain. In America, it’s called a “hot” burglary – a burglary that takes place when the homeowners are present – or a “home invasion”, which is a much more accurate term. Just over 10 per cent of US burglaries are “hot” burglaries, and in my part of the world it’s statistically insignificant: there is virtually zero chance of a New Hampshire home being broken into while the family are present. But in England and Wales it’s more than 50 per cent and climbing. Which is hardly surprising given the police’s petty, well-publicised pursuit of those citizens who have the impertinence to resist criminals.”

    Now the final point of beauty…we aren’t talking about blood running in the streets. #1 you can infer from the above article (and I can cite other unbiased crime statistics if you so desire) that criminals, if they think they might be killed choose to do something else. Maybe they won’t join the Peace Corps, but maybe they’ll choose to rob my house AFTER I’ve gone to work, or choose to shoplift rather than mug. Its still crime, but non-violent crime is MUCH better in my opinion. Stopping ALL crime is a topic for another discussion. #2 in defensive gun uses most cases no shots are needed to be fired. The Criminal realizes he’s in grave danger and he breaks off the attack. Sometimes the gun owner files a police report, sometimes not. Even better, if shots are fired, a high percentage of times both parties live (Something like 80% of Gunshot victims live through it)

    So, my point, is that while you talk about banning the tools for murder and violence (From the hands of people who have no respect for the law to begin with) but what I hear is you are banning the tools for personal defense. Also with England’s rise in violent crime, and the fact that the murder capitals of our nation are also the gun control capitals, I’d say there’s enough evidence to support my hypothesis, but not yours.

    And finally, thanks for keeping this an open forum for discussion of both sides of the issue!

  8. Weer'd Beard Says:

    Have you just abandoned this discussion?

  9. mikeb302000 Says:

    Weer’d, No, I’m still here. Your point is a good one about banning the tools of personal defense. I hear you. And I hear you about the stats proving that fewer guns don’t translate into less trouble for the society. But, I also know that the gun control people can overwhelm you with stats of their own proving the opposite. What I’m going by is just common sense as I see it. What makes sense to me is fewer guns means fewer shootings. The suicides that are 90% successful using a handgun might not be so numerous if those handguns weren’t within easy reach. The domestic flare-ups that turn lethal, same thing. It seems to me that those situations far outweigh the ones you keep talking about where legitimate defense saves the day.

  10. Bob S. Says:

    Mike,

    You keep talking about common sense when all the evidence is showing things to the contrary.

    Let’s see some of the statistics on the other side, this is a highly researched area for many. Do cities with gun bans like Chicago, Washington D.C. San Francisco have fewer shootings then other cities?
    Fort Worth, TX Washington, DC National
    Murder: 7.6 29.1 7
    Forcible Rape: 38.49 31.3 32.2
    Robbery: 220.8 619.7 205.8
    Aggravated Assault: 388.9 765.7 336.5
    Burglary: 1402.1 657.9 813.2
    Larceny Theft: 3759.7 2602.1 2601.7
    Vehicle Theft: 521.5 1213.5 501.5

    This is just one example.
    Here are a couple of links, do the research for yourself.

    http://www.areaconnect.com/crime/compare.htm?c1=Fort+Worth&s1=TX&c2=Washington&s2=DC
    http://www.nationmaster.com/
    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/

    I started off researching gun control after Columbine. I fully expected to come up with the same decision you made, fewer guns fewer crimes. What I found surprised me, it didn’t agree with what the media said.

    Why are suicides with handguns 90% successful? Maybe the majority of the other attempts are desperation cries instead of viable attempts.

    If handguns are the problem, how do you explain Japan’s suicide rate, nearly double ours?
    Or Russia with strict gun control laws, nearly triple?

    As far as your point about the situations that can turn lethal outweighing the legitimate defensive uses, isn’t that a decision that each person should make?
    If someone thinks they may be violent and likely to grab a firearm, they might not want to have one handy.
    But you aren’t talking about each person making a choice, you and other gun banners want to make that choice for everyone. I have firearms in my home, have had them for a while now. I’ve had fights with my wife, never did I even think of the firearms. If someone doesn’t want firearms in their houses, great….but why should they be able to make that decision for me?

    This is what it boils down to, Control – not gun control but control of people and the choices they can make.

  11. Weer'd Beard Says:

    “What makes sense to me is fewer guns means fewer shootings. The suicides that are 90% successful using a handgun might not be so numerous if those handguns weren’t within easy reach. The domestic flare-ups that turn lethal, same thing. It seems to me that those situations far outweigh the ones you keep talking about where legitimate defense saves the day.”

    Well the only issue with that is Gun laws never mean “Fewer Guns”, and in the case of places like the United Kingdom, the ban on guns has driven the black market for home-made in illegally imported guns. Similar idea with the prohibition of alcohol, they banned booze, moonshiners showed up overnight, and drinking rates were the highest in our nation’s history to that date.

    As for Suicides, Japan is a fairly good example why the Gun Suicide rate is a red herring. There are pleanty of easy ways to end your life if you don’t have a gun. Banning guns won’t do anything for suicide rates.

    as for “domestic flare-ups that turn lethal” care to drop some statistics? Around here 90% of the firearm homicide rate (hell 90% of the TOTAL homicide rate…maybe even higher around here) is drug and gang activity no “Domestic Flare-ups”.

    So I’d say your claims are emotional and baseless…but I welcome you to present some data to disprove me.

    Thanks!


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