Glock-works 3 and everything but the kitchen sink

January 16, 2011

The weather is very unusual, because suddenly it became warm like in spring and all the snow melted in only two days. Until now I took it for granted that January would be the coldest month it would be the time where I had to stay inside, looking out onto snowy fields and lanes and waiting for warmer weather. I remember a terrible cold night in mid January twenty years ago, when the water of the central heating froze and I had to warm the pipes with an arc welder that I borrowed from a friend.

I have never seen any January where it was that warm and I worry, that plants will start to grow and animals will wake up from their hibernation and a cold spell in February or March will kill everything off. The unusually mild temperatures could also spell trouble for my friends, the trees in the adjacent forest. The group of big old spruce trees, that are shielding the big clearing in the middle of the forest lost a few members last year, because some of the trees were infected with bark beetles and had to be cut down by the owner to prevent an epidemic spread of the insect infestation. This group of trees is shaped like a crescent and the trees at the edges are vulnerable to wind gusts. A storm two years ago already broke down three trees, leaving wood splinters scattered all over the place. Some splinters can be found there still.

Why do I worry? I’m just a spectator and I will leave one day and the things that I love and cherish and appreciate will not be important to anybody else. Or at least it seems that these things will not be important to anybody else.

The kids don’t spend their time in the woods, they don’t wander across meadows and prairies. They spent their time behind the computer or are typing Twitter messages on their mobile phones and tablets. They worry about their Facebook contacts and about cell phone and Wifi reception, not about trees and lizards or other dwindling animal and plant species. The kids will not miss the frogs and lizards and bats and hedgehogs, they will not miss the distinct vegetation and the rare animals of wetlands, they will not miss the grandeur and the peaceful quietness of forests. The kids cannot understand the joy of kneeling by a small creek and drinking the clear water, the joy of sitting down there and watching the newts and the frogs. The kids have never experienced the magic of pristine nature and they will not miss it.

I will miss it, I already miss the things that are gone forever and I only hope, that the remainders of nature, the few refuges that are left for me and my animal friends, will last a little bit longer than I will.

The only animals that should not outlast me, are my cats. If they survive me, then let it be so, but I would be troubled by this turn of events because I want to accompany and guide them and care for them till their last days and I want to be sure that their lives end in dignity and grace. I intend to bury them as I did bury Babycat, Harry and Lizzy.

The cats are not toys or tools to be used up and then discarded, destroyed, recycled, compacted, melted, burned (or whatever else is done with all the trash that we produce in this one-way economy). They are living creatures, they are my fellow animals! They are my companions while I’m walking the long and winding and bumpy road that leads from my birth to my death and they make the walk along the long and winding road less lonely and less burdensome. They help me and therefore I will help them. They have a right, they are entitled to live and die in dignity and grace. Maybe I’m alone with this view and maybe I’m ridiculed for my feelings of responsibility and gratefulness — ridicule and derision won’t make me waver. When I grew up, dignity and grace were still part of the value system and even more important than making a profit and being the most successful cheater and defrauder. I know, I’m outdated now, I’m a relict of the “pre Cutthroat Capitalism” era.

When I wrote my blog post “Glock-works”, I was not satisfied with the first take and I published a second post and I’m still not satisfied and today I will try it a third time:

The Glock-works text was prompted by the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Tucson, Arizona. 22-year-old Jared Loughner shot the congresswoman in the head, killed six bystanders and severely injured twelve other people. One of the death was District Court Judge John Roll. Another victim was Christina Tailor Green, a girl who was born on September 11, 2001.

Loughner was a deranged personality, before the shooting rampage he was up all night outside a supermarket, making several visits to the supermarket’s shopping plaza, in between checking in at an area hotel and visiting two Walmart stores to buy ammunition. Loughner had dropped out from high school and he had a history of alcohol and drug abuse. He had tried various jobs but always was fired after a short time and he also was dismissed from Pima Community College after causing several disruptions. Teachers and classmates had feared that he might commit a school shooting and in a video he is railing against this “genocide” school.

I abhor weapons and violence, I despise people who carry weapons and who kill. Weapons should be banned, people with mental problems should get help, social tensions and inequalities in society should be diminished and the “macho cult” replaced by an ethical framework based on empathy and mutual respect and understanding. My position to shootings and killings is clear, yet, the underlying reasons for this particular tragedy and its impact on US politics and the various interconnections between related issues are not clear.

Gabrielle Giffords is not an advocate of gun control. She had herself a Glock pistol at home and is reported to have said: “I’m a pretty good shoot”. Gibbons is a conservative “Blue Dog” Democrat with a belief system, that would have as well fitted into the republican party. She voted for Obama’s health care reform, but that doesn’t amount to much because the health care reform bill without “public option” is just another windfall for the private insurance corporations and the health care industry will use every trick in the book and will exploit every loophole and will make a mockery out of this “reform” bill.

Even if Gabrielle Giffords recovers from her brain injuries and changes her mind and fights for stricter regulation of guns she will not be able to change the laws, she will simply be ignored. Americans love their guns and they buy them in even greater numbers. The shooting incident has not caused repulsion or distaste of weapons, it in the contrary increased the reputation of Glock pistols and sales spiked after the shooting with stores selling twice the numbers of the easily concealed yet very powerful pistol — and that’s in addition to a 60 percent increase in Glock sales over the past year.

Americans obviously make the conclusion: “If you can shoot easily 19 people with this pistol, is must be of good quality and must be worth buying”! This thinking will not change, the gun industry will continue booming and 3.6 billion US$ worth of firearms will be sold annually. The NRA (National Riffle Association), which is the most powerful lobbying group in Washington, will make sure that everybody can have as many weapons as he or she wants.

Carolyn McCarthy, another Democratic congresswoman, lost her husband in a shooting tragedy on Long Island in 1993. She went into politics after the death of her husband and since her election in 1997 is fighting courageously and undeterred for stricter gun laws. She wants to reintroduce the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004, and could have prevented Loughner from causing double-digit casualties, because it forbids high capacity magazines. http://carolynmccarthy.house.gov/

As I said before, the surrounding facts in this case are not clearcut and there are no simple answers and conclusions. US America is evidently the most militarized society, but not the most violent one and also not the nation with the most politically motivated killings. The Mexican drug war has killed 34,600 people in four years, nearly 16,000 in 2010. Mexicans massacre Mexicans in this war, though gun dealers across the boarder are involved as well. US firearms agents estimate that around 80 percent of the weapons used by Mexican drug traffickers come from the United States, where cartel leaders are hiring Americans with clean records to make the purchases for them.

In Colombia the struggle of FARC rebels against paramilitary forces and against the Colombian army has left 12,000 people dead. In addition to the ongoing guerrilla war indigenous Colombians (Awa, Nukak, Sicuani, Jiw, Embera) are massacred and face extinction. The homicide rate is 62 per 100,000. In the Philippines 1,200 murder victims were counted since 2001 and this figure includes a number of office holders and government employees. In 2009 the massacre of a deputy mayor and his entourage left 57 dead. Among the gunmen was a rival gubernatorial candidate who flagrantly showed up to personally oversee the killing.

South Africa enacted strict gun controls, but that has in no way impacted the proliferation of illegal firearms to criminals. South Africa’s homicide rate is 40 per 100,000.

Even the strictest gun controls cannot prevent violent rampages. In China, where private firearms are forbidden, 21 children and teachers were killed and 90 others injured in five unrelated school attacks in 2010. The attackers used knives, hammers and hatchets. Two US tourists and their Chinese guide were stabbed during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Chinas homicide rate is 2 in 100,000.

A study by the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development estimated a global rate of 7.6 homicides per 100,000 for 2004. The USA homicide rate is 5, Japan’s homicide rate is 0.44 (Japan has very strict gun laws).

After sifting through the data I come to the conclusion, that easy access to weapons is an important factor in gun crimes, but not the only one. The overall social climate may have an even bigger impact. I would modify the popular slogan of gun advocates “guns don’t kill, people kill”, to “guns don’t kill people, but they help”.

Why did Jared Loughner target Gabrielle Giffords? Was it because she is a Democratic representative? Was it because she is jewish? Was it because she is a woman? The evidence collected from Loughners’ home includes a handwritten note with the words “Die, bitch,” which is believed to be a reference to Giffords.

The hate filled rhetoric in US politics may have played a role. Republican verbal attacks against anybody who is deemed to be liberal or progressive, the aggressive rhetoric of Sarah Palin and other Tea Party celebrities and the steady stirring of resentments by Fox propagandists like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh (the “straight shooter”) could have been a catalyst. The Tea Party speaks of “taking their country back” and the “need to exercise our 2nd Amendment Rights” (Sharon Angle), and more direct: “Don’t Retreat, Reload” (Sarah Palin). Palin also posted a political hitlist on Facebook in form of a map with cross hairs on 20 Democratic districts (including Giffords district). In a recent video Palin referred to Giffords jewish ancestry: “journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel”.

One cannot blame hateful political rhetoric for the shooting tragedy without also blaming violent video games, movies and TV shows. American culture not only condones violence, it often celebrates and glorifies it.

The deeply entrenched hunting tradition could play a role as well. Between 20 and 40 million people in the US are hunting, though the last years saw a decline. In December Sarah Palin shot a caribou on her TV show and she never fails to emphasize that she likes to kill wild animals for fun. Palin also tried to encourage aerial hunting of wolfs.
I love this webside: http://www.huntsab.org/

In the end, having checked all possible factors, my gut feeling tells me, that the main reason for Jared Loughner’s amok run was his hate against women. Gabrielle Giffords was an intelligent and successful woman. On of the women who can call the male dominance into question. One of the women who can take away the only pride that is left for a null like Loughner. The pride to be a man, the pride of belonging to the superior, to the dominating gender.

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