Tag Archives: gun violence

Why stay mum on shooters’ names?

I declared my intention recently to no longer identify mass shooters by name when referring to these tragic events in this blog.

A reader of High Plains Blogger than wondered: Why refer to people such as Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray and Lee Harvey Oswald by name?

Fair question. I’ll take a stab at answering it.

First of all, these men all killed notable public figures and officials. Sirhan murdered Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Ray gunned down the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Of the three of these shooters, only Sirhan is alive; he is serving a life term in a California prison.

Their names were thrust into the public domain the way, say, John Wilkes Booth’s name has been in that domain since he murdered President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.

All these men changed the course of history. Thus, I have felt justified in referencing them by name whenever I felt like commenting on the incidents to which they all are linked forever.

These latest string of murderers don’t ascend to that level. They have sought publicity. Thus, I have taken a vow to keep their names off this blog for as long as I am writing it.

I even have acted retroactively, back to 1966, when the madman opened fire from atop the University of Texas Tower. I used to refer to him by name; no longer. He now joins the lengthy — and tragically growing — list of lunatics who have sought to make names for themselves through hideous acts of violence.

One more point: Even the loons who die, either by their own hand or by law enforcement, in the commission of their heinous deeds will not be ID’d in this blog with their name.

That’s my story. I am sticking to it.

Did they arrest the wrong guy? Oh, probably not

The man accused of five counts of capital murder and an assortment of other felonies today pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Let’s see: The Annapolis Capital Gazette became a killing ground when a gunman opened fire in the newsroom. Four of the victims were journalists, the fifth was a sales assistant.

The shooter was captured by Maryland police within about an hour of the tragic incident. He refused to cooperate with law enforcement.

I get that the U.S. Constitution gives everyone the right to a legal defense. I get that citizenship protects criminal defendants from kangaroo courts, or from prejudgments.

However, I feel compelled to ask: Did the cops nab the wrong guy immediately after the shooting? I doubt it. Strongly!

As The Hill reported: Emily Morse, a spokeswoman for the prosecution, told Reuters that Ramos was identified through facial recognition technology. However, she disputed previous news reports that said Ramos had damaged his fingers to avoid identification through fingerprinting.

This guy’s defense will be an interesting spectacle to watch.

Time to rethink ‘stand your ground’? Um, yep

You’ve seen the video.

A man shoves another man to the ground; the fellow who does the pushing is unarmed. The guy on the ground, pulls out a pistol and shoots the other man in the chest. The first gentleman then staggers into a convenience store, collapses in front of his son, and then dies at a local hospital.

The Clearwater, Fla., authorities, though, say they won’t charge the shooter because, they explained, he acted in accordance with the state of Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

The law needs a careful re-examination. Indeed, it needs to be rewritten, in my humble view.

The man who died was Markeis McGlockton, who was at the store with his 5-year-old son and his girlfriend. The victim’s girlfriend, apparently had been hassled by the shooter, Micheal Drejka, because she was parked in a handicapped-only zone.

McGlockton saw the confrontation, then ran to defend his girlfriend. That is when he pushed the other fellow to the ground.

This constitutes a “stand your ground” incident? I don’t get it!

I mean, good grief, McGlockton was walking away from Drejka when he got shot! How in the world does that present a clear and present threat to the shooter?

As CBSNews.com has reported: Criminal defense attorney Anthony Rickman says the fact that McGlockton backed up after the shove raises concerns.

“The question is, at that point in time, was there the possibility of imminent serious bodily injury or death of Drejka that justified the use of deadly force? And after watching that video, I don’t think so,” Rickman said.

We’ve had this national debate already. The Florida statute came into play when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin to death after he spotted the youngster walking through a neighborhood that Zimmerman was patrolling as a private security officer.

Michael Drejka has emerged as yet another embodiment of a law that gives license to individuals to shoot first and … well, the consequences be damned!

ESPYs honor courageous athletes, coaches

It’s not always fashionable for athletes to make political statements. They expose themselves to criticism — much of it shrill and strident — as some pro football players might acknowledge.

However, the ESPYs — the awards provided by ESPN, the nation’s premier sports and entertainment network — hit it out of the park Wednesday night during its annual award ceremony.

Why? The ESPYs spoke to the politics of the moment. The statements were profound and powerful.

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award went to 141 young women who had the courage to stand up to Michigan State University and to a physician who abused them sexually. You’ve heard of the former MD, Larry Nasar , who’s now spending the rest of his life in prison for what he did to those athletes.

All the women stood on the stage, covering it in the courage exemplified by the man whose memory is honored. Tennis great Arthur Ashe died 30 years ago of complications from HIV/AIDS, but exhibited tremendous courage before he passed.

The women stood tall they stood strong. They are the faces and the voices of the “Me Too” movement. They so richly deserve this honor.

Then we have the Coach of the Year honor. Who got that one? It went to three high school coaches, and not necessarily for the leadership they showed on the field of competition — but the selfless courage they demonstrated this past Feb. 14 when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The coaches all died protecting their students. They threw themselves into harm’s way to save the lives of the youngsters they promised to keep safe.

Chris Hixon, Aaron Fies and Scott Biegel paid the ultimate price on behalf of their students. Their names are now memorialized forever to remember the heroism they exhibited during a terrible spasm of gun violence.

It’s not all that often when you have the perfect juxtaposition of politics and sports. We saw it Wednesday night at an annual award ceremony.

Well done, ESPN.

We are in serious trouble

I am going to steer far from any discussion about what motivated the mass murderer this week in Annapolis, Md.

Also, I will not discuss the issue of guns, gun control or gun rights.

Instead, I merely want to lament briefly the terrible state of our union in the context of the murder of five newspaper employees. A gunman with a shotgun sauntered into the Capital-Gazette office and opened fire.

He killed four journalists and a sales assistant and “gravely injured” two others.

I damn near have run out of expressions of outrage over this latest act of insane senselessness. Children get slaughtered in our public schools; nightclub patrons are murdered; a crowd of country music festival attendees runs for cover as a gunman opens fire on them with a “bump stock” rifle that has effectively become a machine gun; shopping mall customers have fallen; so have movie theater customers.

What the hell is going on in my country?

The president who vows to “put America first” seems tone deaf to how the world is viewing this nation of ours. Other Americans are not. I happen to one who is terribly concerned about what the world thinks of us, how it perceives Americans. I want the world to think well of Americans and of our country.

Donald J. Trump tells us the world “respects” us again. Does it? Can it possibly “respect” a nation where citizens open fire on their fellow citizens?

Yes, this is all happening as the nation grapples with immigration policy and its treatment of those who seek to come here in search of a better life.

I have to wonder: How much better can life here be when gunmen open fire without warning on people who go to work never expecting that they would die?

Yes, we are in trouble.

You’re even less funny now, Gov. Abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott went to a gun range a year ago, shot a few rounds into a target and then bragged about the tight grouping of bullet holes he put into the piece of paper.

As Time reported: “I’m gonna carry this around in case I see any reporters,” according to the Texas Tribune. 

That’s a serious knee-slapper, ain’t it?

I didn’t laugh at the time. I am seriously not laughing now in the wake of what happened Thursday in the newsroom of the Annapolis (Md.) Capital-Gazette, where five people were slaughtered by a gunman.

Do you know what I’d like to hear now from Gov. Abbott? A statement of remorse over his tasteless quip. That would help quell at least some of the hatred that’s being fomented against members of the media by politicians in high places.

Here’s how Time reported it.

What do you think, Gov. Abbott?

We know others just like them

I should be reluctant to place the murders of five people in an Annapolis, Md., newspaper office into a special category of grief.

I mean, we’ve all been to movie theaters, or to nightclubs, or shopped at malls, or attended music concerts or attended public schools (or have members of our family in those schools at this moment). Shooters have opened fire in those venues, sending the nation into spasms of grief and agony.

However, the deaths of these five Capital-Gazette employees hits many of us harder than many millions of other Americans. We worked in newsrooms. I worked in newsrooms.

And I know people who all but match the descriptions of those who died Thursday at the hands of a madman.

Mentor, quirky, dedicated to the community, a fresh face. Those of who us have toiled — or who are toiling — at this craft feel this loss in a uniquely common manner. We all know journalists, dedicated craftsmen and women, just like them. We also have known young sales assistants just like the young woman who fell to the gunman’s unhinged wrath.

Yeah, this tragedy hurts … a lot!

Another shooting, more grief

I am running out of ways to express my horror at the gun violence that has erupted yet again.

A shooter walked into an Annapolis, Md., newspaper office — the Capital Gazette — and opened fire. He killed five people and “gravely” wounded several others.

Details are sketchy about the gunman. Or his motive. Or even his identity.

School shootings have become the scourge of our society. Gunmen have performed acts of carnage in movie theaters, shopping malls, a country music festival, nightclubs.

Now it’s a newspaper office.

What in the name of civilized society has happened to us?

Guns make us bite our tongue

WICHITA FALLS, Texas — A long time passed from when the Texas Legislature voted to allow open carry of firearms before I saw someone actually packing a pistol on his hip.

My wife and I were returning to Fairview today after spending some time in our RV in Amarillo when we walked into one of our favorite eating places in Wichita Falls. We wanted to grab a quick bite before heading on down the highway toward home.

A couple was disciplining a youngster a few tables away. The gentleman was particularly loud in seeking to get the boy to settle down. He has one of those annoying voices that we would have heard even if the eatery was packed wall to wall with customers.

I mentioned the grating sound of the guy’s voice to my wife, who then informed me, “Yes, and he’s carrying a gun, too.”

I shot a glance over my shoulder at the guy. Sure enough, there it was. In plain sight. Some kind of high-caliber semi-automatic pistol.

Then it occurred to me: Just as concealed carry laws have made motor vehicle drivers a bit more circumspect with other drivers who cut them off in traffic — at least that’s my view — open carry laws damn sure would prevent someone from speaking out against someone who, um, is bellowing to a youngster.

I didn’t think of saying anything to this guy. But what if someone else on the other side of the table heard him and decided to confront him over the tone of voice he was using to calm the little boy down?

Having seen the firearm on this guy’s hip, I know I’d never say a word to the guy.

As for whether my wife and I will frequent this eating establishment in the future, that’s another matter altogether. I prefer to enjoy a meal in an establishment where guns are prohibited.

Time to ‘harden’ our schools?

It turns out that Santa Fe (Texas) High School had an award-winning safety program … that didn’t prevent a gunman from killing 10 people and injuring 10 others.

As the Texas Tribune reports: The school district had an active-shooter plan, and two armed police officers walked the halls of the high school. School district leaders had even agreed last fall to eventually arm teachers and staff under the state’s school marshal program, one of the country’s most aggressive and controversial policies intended to get more guns into classrooms.

They thought they were a hardened target, part of what’s expected today of the American public high school in an age when school shootings occur with alarming frequency. And so a death toll of 10 was a tragic sign of failure and needing to do more, but also a sign, to some, that it could have been much worse.

The school district hadn’t yet put guns in teachers’ hands.

All of this has provoked some thought.

We put entrants into county courthouses through security scanners. Same with airports.

I’m wondering now whether it’s time to place the same level of protection around our students and teachers that we do around county employees and airport staff and passengers.

Yes, it will cost lots of money. Each state in this nation, not to mention the federal government, should dig deep into pockets to find it. So should school districts.

I see this as part of a comprehensive plan to curb gun violence. I still believe there’s a legislative solution out there to be discovered that pass constitutional muster. That, too, must be found. I no longer am going to accept the idea that any legislative remedy is going to violate the Second Amendment guarantee of the right to “keep and bear arms.”

That’s not enough. If we’re going to send our children to school where they are supposed to learn in a safe environment, then it is time for government at several levels to step up. We need to protect them — and not with additional guns hidden in teachers’ drawers in the classroom!

We need more cops patrolling these schools, state-of-the-art security technology and detection systems that can spot a firearm a mile away.

Our children need the protection they deserve. They are our treasure. Our future. If we love them, then we need to demonstrate it. Now!