Sunday, April 5, 2009

More Mass Shootings: When Will We Ever Learn

As I've written in the past, mass shooting murders have become a sport in America. And after every incident we repeat the same game of trying to find a motive for the killings, as if any excuse could justify murder. We continue to miss the point. Not until we address the issue of too many guns in a culture that glorifies violence will we begin to climb out of this moral abyss.

The shooting has stunned Binghamton, just as mass shootings of civilians have stunned so many communities.

You remember Columbine ten years ago: 15 dead. And then Virginia Tech two years ago: 32 dead.

But you may not remember the shootings that left ten dead in southeastern Alabama, or the eight who died in a North Carolina nursing home … the six dead in Santa Clara, California … and now Binghamton.

Then there's yesterday morning's shooting of three police officers in Pittsburgh, and the five children apparently murdered by their father in Washington State before he killed himself.

Six mass shootings that have taken 47 lives in just four weeks' time.

It seems that no town, big or small, is immune. But why? Is there more violence - and is our reaction to it changing?

"Tragically, I think many Americans have become more desensitized, more numb to the mass murder, to the massacre, because it is no longer that unusual," said Howard Kurtz, a media critic for the Washington Post.

"It doesn't mean that everybody doesn't get a feeling in their gut when they hear that a bunch of innocent people have died at the hands of one crazy gunman, but it is no longer a story that we've never heard of before," said Kurtz. "So there's a certain ritual to it. We know what to expect."

Part of what we expect are expressions of condolences from our political leaders … but that is where it all seems to stop.

CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen says that, in this climate, more is not likely to happen.

"I just don't think [as] a political issue that folks care as much about gun control right now as they do about economics," he said.

"The hard reality is that people are more concerned about their jobs and their 401(k)s and how they're going to pay for their school tuition for their kids, than they are about trying to put additional restrictions on guns."

They do it because they know the media will seemingly portray a monster as someone with "troubles." The Columbine killers depicted almost sympathetically when their acts of evil were explained away as revenge for being "bullied" in school.
A man who fatally shot his five children and killed himself had just discovered his wife was leaving him for another man, authorities said Sunday.

The bodies of James Harrison's children, ages 7 to 16, were found with multiple gunshot wounds Saturday in the family's mobile home, most of them in their beds. Harrison's body had been found earlier in the day with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, behind the wheel of his idling car.

The night before, the father and his eldest daughter went in search of his wife, Angela Harrison. The daughter used a GPS feature in her mother's cell phone to find her with another man at a convenience store in nearby Auburn, said Ed Troyer, spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff.

The woman told her husband she was not coming home, and was leaving him for the man with her at the store. The father and the daughter left, distraught, Troyer said.

Sometime after the children went to sleep, he shot each of them multiple times. Four died in their beds. The fifth was found in the bathroom, surrounded by signs of violent struggle.

"He wanted the kids dead," Troyer said. "It wasn't like he shot a few rounds. He shot several rounds."

Investigators believe he then returned to the area near the convenience store looking for his wife. His body was found near the store, Troyer said.

"We think he was going to go back to kill the wife," Troyer said. "He probably didn't find her and realized the gravity of what he'd done and shot himself."

Several weapons were found in the home.

Any reason can trigger an individual to go berserk nowadays. There is something terrible wrong with our society. We've become one big violent video game or movie:
Three Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, police officers were shot to death while responding to a 911 call of a domestic argument triggered by a urinating dog, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.

The officers were the first department fatalities since 1995, according to the department.

Police said following the shootings Saturday that Richard Poplawski, 22, would be charged with three counts of homicide, aggravated assault and other charges. Poplawski, who was shot in the leg during a four-hour standoff with police, was hospitalized at an undisclosed location, police said.

Details of the incident were included in the police complaint seeking an arrest warrant for Poplawski. The complaint says Margaret Poplawski called 911 about 7 a.m. Saturday to report that her son was "giving her a hard time." Video Watch officers respond at the scene »

She told police she awoke to discover that "the dog had urinated on the floor," and awakened her son "to confront him about it."

The two had an argument, and Margaret Poplawski told her son she was calling police to remove him from her home, according to the complaint. When officers Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo III arrived, she opened the door and let them in.

"Mrs. Poplawski reported that as the officers entered approximately 10 feet into the residence, she heard gunshots, turned and saw her son about six feet away with a long rifle in his hands, at which point she fled downstairs after asking him, 'What the hell have you done?'" the complaint said.

Margaret Poplawski reported she stayed in the basement during the standoff, and heard her son yell, "Yeah, I've been shot," and "I'm standing down, come in and help me," according to the complaint.

Police Chief Nathan Harper identified the dead officers as Eric Kelly, Mayhle and Sciullo. Kelly was a 14-year veteran of the department; the other two had worked there for two years each.

Sounding the alarm of gun violence:
As the horrific gun violence continued in the United States, Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, issued the following statement:

"Today's mass shooting in Binghamton is just the latest wake-up call reminding us that we must do something to stop the gun violence in our country. In the past few weeks alone, in mass shootings, 10 were killed in Alabama, eight killed in a North Carolina nursing home, 10 killed in California, including four police officers, but the silence from many of our political leaders was deafening.

"About 30,000 people a year in this country die from gun violence, about 80 a day, 32 by homicide - the same number who died at Virginia Tech two years ago this month. In the space of four months, up to nine Americans died as a result of bacteria-laden peanut butter crackers, and the government quickly took action. Some of the top government officials in our country say we don't need to do anything different - that we should just 'enforce the laws on the books.' The laws on the books aren't getting the job done. Now is the time to take effective steps to prevent gun violence.

Not only are we suffering in the U.S. because of the easy availability of guns in this country:
Mexico has some of the toughest gun-control laws in the world, yet the country's drug cartels are armed to the teeth with high-powered illegal weapons because guns are so easy to buy in the United States and smuggle over the border.

"If the United States had a system like ours, we wouldn't have so many problems here in Mexico," Agustin Villordo, 27, of Puebla, Mexico, said Tuesday as he shopped for a hunting rifle.

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will visit Mexico to discuss ways to stop gun smuggling. The meeting is part of an effort by the United States to help Mexico in an increasingly bloody war against the drug cartels. More than 6,300 people have died in the violence since 2006.

But Mexicans say little will change as long as the United States continues to make it easy to buy guns.

"It is necessary to reduce the sale of weapons, particularly of high-power weapons, in the United States," President Felipe Calderón said during a visit to Britain on Monday.

He said there was a "correlation" between Mexico's soaring drug violence and the end of the U.S. ban on sales of assault-style weapons. That ban, which expired in 2004, barred sales of semi-automatic rifles with certain combinations of military-style features, such as folding stocks, large magazines or flash suppressors.

Nothing will change unless we force the whore politicians in Washington to stand up to the NRA:
This weekend should prove to us that here in 2009, the MSM and our leaders do not care at all about gun violence. Seems like we have all given up and believe the NRA won the battle and we should all carry guns, without background checks, everywhere including national parks, churches, stores, airplanes, etc etc.

This is, of course, the NRA's dream come true. A national of wild west gun toters. Screw the liberal police. It's every man for themselves!

The shooter in Pittsburgh this weekend said he was desperate because he believed Obama was going to take his guns away. Sound familiar? That is EXACTLY the marketing campaign literature from the NRA and GOP to incite this sort of violence and gin-up hatred so as to garner a few more votes for the Repubs.

And the press? The press doesn't care. It is more important to find out what Michelle Obama is wearing or waht new gaffe they can drum-up during an Obama speech.

Susan Rice on 'This Week': Transcript (4-5-09)

UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos. Read the complete transcript. Excerpt below:

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what will this international response be?

RICE: Well, George, we have been in close consultation with our allies in Asia, in particular, Japan and South Korea about the appropriate response. We have consulted over the last several days, including this morning as well with the Russians and the Chinese.

So the U.N. Security Council will meet this afternoon in emergency session. I'll be going up there straightaway. And we will be discussing the appropriate response. The United States believes that this action is best dealt with -- the most appropriate response would a United Nations Security Council resolution.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Japan wants sanctions, will the U.S. co-sponsor a sanctions resolution?

RICE: The U.S. is working very closely with Japan and we will be in consultation with our partners inside the council, trying to get the most appropriate and strong response we can possibly get.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But this is already a violation of U.N. resolutions -- two U.N. resolutions...

RICE: Yes, it is.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... just to have this test. So what good does it do for the United Nations to come back and say, hey, we really mean it this time?

RICE: Now, well, the first resolution that is really the operative one was from 2006, when the North Koreans launched a missile and the United Nations Security Council demanded a halt to future missile-related activity and any future missile launches.

We feel very strongly that what occurred today was a violation of that resolution. So we will go back and work, George, to both toughen existing regimes, but to add to that resolution. In fact, that resolution did not...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So there will be new sanctions toughening...

RICE: George, we have 15 members of the Security Council and -- including the permanent five, so we all need to come together around this. But the United States' view is, this is serious, it's a violation, and it merits and appropriately strong United Nations response. We'll be… STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned...

RICE: ...working for that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned the 15 members. One of them, of course, as you mentioned, is China. China has made it pretty clear they don't want any sanctions. And because of that, your predecessor, John Bolton, says that any kind of U.N. resolution is going to be close to meaningless.



JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I think the real pressure has to be applied on China, which gives North Korea 80 to 90 percent of its energy and a substantial amount of its food and other humanitarian needs.

China has got the capability to stop this nuclear program, we've just never applied adequate pressure to them.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Is the United States prepared to pressure China?

RICE: We're working very closely with China. China shares the same goal that we do, which is a de-nuclearized Korean Peninsula. China also is very proximate, on the border with North Korea, and shares our desire not to see this situation escalate, and to ensure that we can achieve, George, the long-term goal, which is de- nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through the six-party talk process.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But because China is right on the border of North Korea, they've been reluctant to really pressure North Korea. They're afraid that if you turn the screws too hard on North Korea, the regime is going to collapse and there's going to be chaos.

And is that why they are not going along with tougher sanctions?

RICE: Well, I think they have multiple concerns. They are looking at the large long-term goal of ensuring that we don't have a nuclearized Korean Peninsula. There have been times when we have differed as to the best means of achieving that.

But we are unified with China and others in the six parties towards the goal, George, of ensuring that we roll back this nuclear program that North Korea is pursuing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But is there any evidence at all that North Korea is going to respond to any of this? They've been steadily adding to their nuclear program, in fits and starts at times, but basically they've been able, over the last eight years or so, to develop a nuclear capability, to develop nuclear warheads, and they seem determined to keep going on that track. RICE: Well, George, it is fits and starts. I mean, there have been steps that have occurred over the last years that have been progress. For example, they did take steps to dismantle the facility at Yongbyon, which was the principal reactor.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But then they restarted it.

RICE: No. We have seen some serious dismantlement. The problem that we face now is ensuring that there is a verifiable regime to ensure de-nuclearization. And that's where the six-party talks have now stalled.

The challenge, George, is to convey with unity, as the president said today, on behalf of the international community that we will not stand for violations of international law which this launch today represented. That there will be consequences. And that, indeed, we will pursue together with resolve the goal of achieving a Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons.