Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mannequins and Mad Minutes

There is a story behind this photo. It's a very American story, a story that says so much about the ideological fissures in our country.


In March of this year, a group of gun advocates in Texas held a "mad minute" at a firing range. A "mad minute" is a military expression for a short period of intense gunfire, and this one was aimed at the mannequin pictured. Take a moment to notice how the men positioned this female figure. Before they let loose with the bullets, they had her posed with her hands raised in surrender. Her arms were subsequently blown clean off. The jeans might have fallen down as a result of bullets, but that seems unlikely. It appears they were yanked down around her ankles as part of this photo op, by the shooters. The video of the stunt is still up on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=220993501431803

You will notice that CJ Grisham, the founder of Open Carry Texas, writes in the comments that the video "warms the cockles of my heart." You can also see more photos here, where they have been posted by the fellow who hosted the event:


So that's Photo Story #1, which I'm simply going to report; you all can reach your own conclusions and/or read this in-depth analysis by Mother Jones, which is how I first heard of the story.

Jennifer Longdon
The second Photo Story starts with the above photo. Jennifer Longdon was nearly killed in 2004 when unknown assailants shot her and her fiance as they headed to a drive-through restaurant in Arizona. He was blinded in one eye, she was left paralyzed. Longdon, a gun-owner and 2nd-amendment advocate, has since become a staunch supporter of sensible gun laws. In response, she has been seriously harassed by those opposed to gun reform. From Mother Jones:

After a fundraiser one night during the program, Longdon returned home around 10 p.m., parked her ramp-equipped van and began unloading herself. As she wheeled up to her house, a man stepped out of the shadows. He was dressed in black and had a rifle, "like something out of a commando movie," Longdon told me. He took aim at her and pulled the trigger. Longdon was hit with a stream of water. "Don't you wish you had a gun now, bitch?" he scoffed before taking off.

And that's not all she's faced. While waiting for a flight in Indianapolis, Longdon noticed a tall, thin man staring at her. After a moment he walked up to her and spit in her face. She's also received death and rape threats. All for speaking up for sensible gun laws from her wheelchair. "You might be surprised to know that I own guns although it’s only been the last few months that I’ve been back to the range," she writes in an open letter to AZ Senator Jeff Flake, who opposes the reforms she's advocating. "I found my competitive spirit alive and well along with my aim. I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and an equally strong supporter of sensible gun reform." She adds, "There’s something you need to know about my shooting: my fiancĂ© was armed at the time… Yes, a good guy with a gun…"

See more of her blog here.

The final Photo Story I'm sharing today comes with this image:

Photo from "Moms Demand Action," an advocacy group for sensible gun laws
These excellent citizens were attending an open-carry event at a Chipotle restaurant in Texas. CJ Grisham, the Open Carry Texas leader I mentioned earlier, said the men were not toting their assault rifles as a political demonstration, but merely happened to have them on hand while eating a meal. “We don’t go there just to carry guns into a restaurant,” Grisham told Forbes. “We always let the manager know we’re coming. We try very hard to make people feel comfortable.” I'm sure everyone in the restaurant that day felt very comfortable. (Chipotle has since reversed its stance allowing weapons in its restaurants.)

It is easy for people like me to look at these photos and think, American gun owners have gone utterly bonkers. And yet, I know gun owners, I live among gun owners, who do lock up their guns, who do believe in safety locks and gun safes, who don't participate in these weirdly misogynistic gun-stroking Rambo escapades. The problem is, they are awfully quiet. They are not stepping up with a counter-narrative; they have ceded the debate to the loons. As Longdon put it, "I wish that more responsible gun owners would step into this conversation and say 'Look, those guys don't speak for us.'"

Do they speak for you?

If any of this worries you, and you would like to join the movement for sensible gun laws, here's one way: join Moms Demand Action.

16 comments:

  1. The 2nd amendment has become a refuge for those who's views would make them an outcast in any sane society, thanks to the NRA. The NRA, started as a hunting organization, has become the willing prostitute for gun manufacturers, and the most feared lobby by politicians.

    It would be comical if it weren't so abhorrent, that any statement about guns by politicians has to start with "I fully support the 2nd amendment", no matter how mild or inconsequential.

    The pose of the NRA has brought out those who would usually be hiding under a rock during the light of day, the two shining examples above are just an example of what one finds at gun shows, crowded around the table containing WW2 Nazi artifacts, fondling the canisters labeled Zyclon B, or buying the bumper sticker that says "Support the 2nd amendment, kill a liberal". A minute in combat, a firefight, would leave both gibbering in fear.

    Yeah, I feel strongly about it. The issue has made me, a person who was raised with guns, hunted for 55 years, two tours in VN into someone who's gotten rid of my guns, and support the repeal, not changing, of the 2nd amendment. And having two daughters has made the misogynistic nature of the gun culture unacceptable to me.

    Cheers,
    Mike

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    1. I would like to high-five every single thing you wrote here, Mike.

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  2. I am also a supporter of the 2nd Amendment but the fact that any idiot can own a gun while at the same time you have to get a license to drive makes no sense at all to me. And that's just beef #1.

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    1. Exactly. Maybe we need to appropriate the third amendment (we're not really using it anymore) as a qualifier for the second. "When we said 'well-regulated militia' we most certainly did not have you in mind, Scary Chipotle Men, so put those things away."

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  3. I am ok with everyone being able to have a gun. I just don't think anyone should be allowed to own, buy, make or sell ammunition.

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  4. Wow. These photos are disturbing in so many ways. And mostly because they are so unsurprising.

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    1. Agreed. When I was a teenager, kids came to school with rifles on gun racks in their trucks, and went hunting on weekends. Guns were a part of life — a dangerous part, certainly, as they always have been. But they didn't have the symbolic power they have now; they hadn't acquired this totemic, almost frantic significance. Something has changed.

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  5. Many civilized societies in the world get along just fine with perfectly sensible gun laws. I don't understand why it's so difficult here.

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    1. I agree. The primary difference is the second amendment, which no other country has. It's very difficult for me to imagine the founders intended the kind of gun laws we have now, would approve of how the amendment been interpreted, or would write it using the same (awful, grammatically vague) language, had they the opportunity for a do-over.

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  6. Using a human image like a target in a carnival shooting gallery is just psychotic.

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    1. Yes it is. I get the paper-person cutouts for police or military training, because those people are being trailed to kill human beings so they need (if you buy the premise) to shoot at human-shaped things. But civilians? A mannequin? A girl-shaped mannequin? Half-naked? Pants around her ankles?

      What are they training for?

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  7. No, there are crazies in every area of life...it's just a little scarier when crazies and extremists hold firearms! That doesn't mean it should be taken away from responsible citizens, though...then ONLY the crazies will have guns. How sad that she has to continue to suffer abuse after all she's been through.

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    1. Yes, she is a remarkably determined woman.

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  8. Check out L.O.C. blog. Strange.

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