Sunday Commentary: What Are We Going to Do about Right Wing, Domestic Terrorism Manifesting as Gun Violence?

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First it was Gilroy.  Yesterday it was El Paso and last night Dayton.  I am probably going to focus this more on El Paso at this point.  There are lots of angles to this.

A lot of tweets in response.  One that caught my eye, from Joe Walsh: “If the El Paso killer were a radical Islamic terrorist, we Conservatives would not hesitate to condemn the evil ideology behind the act. It looks like the killer is a white nationalist. We Conservatives must as vociferously condemn the evil ideology that is white supremacy.”

Kamala Harris, running for president: “We shouldn’t have to live in fear of mass shootings. Congress must have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws. If they won’t act, I will.”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, also running for president:  “America is under attack. I’m not sure if this is fully understood. America is under attack by lethal, violent, white nationalist terrorism… This is a national security emergency.”

Beto O’Rourke, presidential candidate from El Paso, said, “We have had a rise in hate crimes every single year during an administration where you have a president who has called Mexicans rapists and criminals.  Though Mexican immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate than those born here in the country.

“He has tried to make us afraid of them to some real effect and consequence,” he said.  “He is a racist and he stokes racism in this country.”

The reaction was interesting.  In El Paso, hundreds of people lined up in 100-degree heat to donate blood.

In Washington, hundreds of protestors from “#MomsDemand” and “#StudentsDemandAction” protested outside of the White House last night, demanding a Senate vote on background checks in honor of El Paso and all gun violence victims.

El Paso is one of the largest cities in the nation.  The 2017 population estimates are 683,577.  It is also the heaviest Latino big city in the country and one with the largest percentage of immigrants.

And yet, despite the rhetoric, it is not a particularly violent community.  There were just 23 murders there last year.  Yesterday alone there were 20 – to put this massacre into perspective.

According to official accounts, a 21-year-old gunman armed with a powerful rifle opened fire at a crowded Walmart.

The New York Times is reporting that the gunman is Patrick Crusius, a white man from a Dallas suburb.  He was taken into custody, having surrendered to police outside.  The authorities are investigating whether Mr. Crusius posted a “manifesto” which described the attack as a response to “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

Titled, “The Inconvenient Truth,” the post declares solidarity with other killings.  It was published about 19 minutes prior to the first 911 call.

“Hispanics will take control of the local and state government of my beloved Texas, changing policy to better suit their needs,” the manifesto said. It added that politicians of both parties are to blame for the United States “rotting from the inside out,” and that “the heavy Hispanic population in Texas will make us a Democrat stronghold.”

In the last week, there has been a push to call white supremacy out for what it is – domestic terrorism.  Remember, prior to the attack on 9/11, it was incidents like Timothy McVeigh and his bombing in Oklahoma City that were getting attention.

“We need to call out white supremacy for what it is: domestic terrorism. And it poses a threat to the United States of America,” Senator Elizabeth Warren, also a presidential candidate, said earlier this week.

Her comments came after FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that the majority of the roughly 100 domestic terrorism-related arrests since October were connected to white supremacy.

“I will say that a majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence, but it does include other things as well,” Mr. Wray said.

But this discussion should not just be about white supremacy – it is also about gun violence.  After all, it has been gun attacks that we have seen over and over again.

I fault both sides here.  The left has been ineffective politically and policy-wise.  The right has been complicit.

I found New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristov’s column fascinating.  It was a reprint of one from November 2017, saying “liberal opposition to guns has often been ineffective, and sometimes counterproductive. The 10-year ban on assault weapons accomplished little, partly because definitions were about cosmetic features like bayonet mounts (and partly because even before the ban, such guns were used in only 2 percent of crimes).”

He notes: “The left sometimes focuses on ‘gun control,’ which scares off gun owners and leads to more gun sales. A better framing is ‘gun safety’ or ‘reducing gun violence,’ and using auto safety as a model—constant efforts to make the products safer and to limit access by people who are most likely to misuse them.”

I have often spoken of the need to treat guns as a public safety problem in need of harm reduction, rather than a regulatory one or one that deprives people who are otherwise law-abiding of their right to their guns.

On the other hand, I find the reaction of the right to be equally problematic.  There have been some interesting exposes on the NRA’s response to the Newtown shooting.  (This is worth reading if you haven’t: click here).

The line from the NRA: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

The problem is that it is not clear that is true.  We have seen chaotic situations unfold where even trained police officers have difficulty attempting to thwart attacks.

Do we really want more people coming into such situations with guns, hitting bystanders, untrained on how to deal with a complicated active shooting situation?

I haven’t really seen anything on it in El Paso, but you would think in Texas, which has some of the most “liberal” open carry policies in the country, if the “good guy with a gun” theory were to work anywhere, it would be in El Paso, Texas.  And yet we don’t see it.

Moreover, as Mr. Kristov points out in his column, “It is true that guns are occasionally used to stop violence. But contrary to what the National Rifle Association suggests, this is rare.”

Meanwhile, he shows the strong correlation between the number of households with guns and the death rate from guns.  Of the 31 states with the highest percentage of households with guns, only five of them have death rates from guns below the national average – Virginia, Nebraska, Maine, South Dakota, and Vermont.

Of the states with the least guns, only Delaware, Florida, Indiana, and Colorado have gun death rates above the national average.

But, as a nation we remain paralyzed to even take modest steps to ensure the reduction in the number of shooting deaths by guns.

In the weeks that follow, there will be anger, finger-pointing, posturing by both sides – but ultimately no action.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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50 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: What Are We Going to Do about Right Wing, Domestic Terrorism Manifesting as Gun Violence?”

  1. John Hobbs

    First, you take away the guns from certified crazies and felons.  Second you call Trump and his racist Trumpkins what they are, neo-fascist thugs. Make racism wrong again. Call it out and don’t let the equivocators off the hook. Confront every instance. Publicly shame those who propagate hate disguised as moderation and drape themselves as “peacemakers.” Now let’s hear from “moderates” who want to give everyone a participation medal.

    1. Alan Miller

      First, you take away the guns from certified crazies and felons.

      I’m sure that will keep them from acquiring another gun within minutes of having the old one taken away.  Nice emotional rant, though.

      1. Craig Ross

        It’s funny how you get your panties in a bunch over your own heritage, but you have no problem making sarcastic or even crass remarks about others.  Your continued cracks about Protected Classes are not appreciated- if you’re going to be sensitive about your own, maybe you should think about your own comments

  2. Bill Marshall

    The line from the NRA: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

    Four of the top 15 mass shootings, in terms of deaths, have occured in Texas, which is one of the highest states in terms of guns/capita, and where concealed carry and open carry are legal.

    So, the line is not demonstratively true.

  3. Bill Marshall

    Semi-“for reals”:  Sandy Hook, Gilroy, and Dayton were murder-suicides… perhaps we need an educational component to get folk thinking that if they are contemplating murder-suicide, be sure to do it in the opposite order…

  4. Bill Marshall

    Another thing… ‘guns don’t kill people, bullets kill people’… ammo should be as tightly, or more so, constrained as the weapons that fire them.  In Mayberry, Sheriff Taylor gave Barney a revolver… and one (and only one) bullet, which he had to carry in his shirt pocket.  As I understand it, in Israel, they constrain ammo much more than weapons.

    And, you don’t need an AK (or any auto/semi-auto) with a 30 round clip to hunt or target shoot — or to deal with a home invader… actually a shotgun does best for the latter..

  5. Eric Gelber

    One correction. The first sentence (“First it was Gilroy.”) should read: “248th it was Gilroy.” We’re now up to 250 in 2019 alone. Domestic terrorism is an epidemic.

    1. Tia Will

      I am very late to this conversation, but Eric is right. Think of all the dedication, time, money, training, equipment and regulations that went into treating the handful of cases nationwide, and preventing further cases of Ebola. If we were to take our epidemic of gun violence as a much greater public health hazard than Ebola ever was, we would have resolved this years ago. Add to that, at the time little was known about Ebola. We know what works in the prevention of gun violence and gun injuries because we have the successes of virtually every other comparable nation to draw upon. All we have to do is some variation of what they already do. We do not lack the knowledge of how to prevent gun-related injuries and deaths. We lack the will.

  6. Jerry Waszczuk

    Kamala Harris, running for president: “We shouldn’t have to live in fear of mass shootings. Congress must have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws. If they won’t act, I will.”

    What Kamala is trying to say stating that: “Congress must have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws. If they won’t act, I will.”   How and when ?  I had a dream.  Kamala ,  Kamala the  corrupted former California Attorney General and witch hunter . 

     

    1. Alan Miller

      I had a dream.  Kamala ,  Kamala the  corrupted former California Attorney General and witch hunter .

      The Dems will save us, JW.  All we need is Dem majorities and all the guns will disappear and the shootings will stop.

    2. Tia Will

      Jerry

      If you really want to know instead of just smearing Harris, the answer to when is “first day in office”. The answer to how is by executive order which she states she would only use if congress would not act. She has stated this clearly several times.

      1. Jerry Waszczuk

        Tia

        I do not  smear  Harris . She is former corrupted California Attorney General  she together with Melinda Haag , McGregor Scott and few others is responsible for incarceration of Senator Leland Yee .
         After Enron’s collapse and the end of the energy crisis orchestrated by white collar crime, the California Attorney offices of AG Bill Lockyer, Jerry Brown, and Kamala Harris racked in hundreds of millions of dollars tax-free in kickbacks from the settlements between power corporations sucked into this sophisticated game of fraud, which cost the California economy and California taxpayers 40 billion dollars but benefitted white collars criminals from the University of California, the state government, and California Independent System Operator (CAISO) cronies. The tax evasion and the California Energy Crisis scam guardian was the California Attorney General’s office and the Energy Task Force crated by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer.I was dealing from 1996-2000 with a very similar fraud of $240,000,000 committed by my former employer Dynegy Power Corporation against Pacific Gas and Electric Company”

  7. Alan Miller

    I view this as a mental health issue.  I’m not so much concerned about white supremacists as I am about angry, vengeful loners, whatever ideology they distort into justification for murder.  A social contagion brought about by widespread knowledge unstoppable in the modern age of communication, ballooning the energy of attention to hyper-psychotic levels for the disturbed soul.

    Let’s see: I have a message the world needs to hear.  I’ll write a manistfesto for the world to hear.  All those who have come before me have had their manifesto’s read to the world.  I will be famous, and my beliefs will be heard.  The more people I kill, the more my story will be heard.  Must kill lots of people.

    The key here is not to print the manifesto, not to even publicize the person’s name.  This has worked somewhat on the Golden Gate bridge with suicides, also a social contagion, advertising the glory of the act with each report — and the effectiveness.  When I was young, each suicide and name was publicized.  This isn’t done anymore.  Between people’s curiosity, the freedom-of-press issues, and the desire to know “why?” — and from reading today’s article, the need to ascribe political motive, this will be one hell of challenge — even more so as even if traditional press will not publish, social media will.

    And so I see no more hope of affecting this contagion as it needs to be, any more than we are going to take away all guns from the mentally ill and not have them just buy another one.

    So it’s hopeless.  Happy Sunday everyone.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Alan:  “This has worked somewhat on the Golden Gate bridge with suicides, also a social contagion, advertising the glory of the act with each report — and the effectiveness.”

      Has it?  According to the link below, the “official” count ended in 1995.

      Looks like the suicide barrier/netting is under construction:

      “Fabrication of the stainless-steel netting and structural pieces began offsite in May 2017 after years of debate and installation of the netting on-site began in August 2018. The netting is scheduled to be complete in 2021 at a projected cost of $211 million.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicides_at_the_Golden_Gate_Bridge

      Alan M.  “The key here is not to print the manifesto, not to even publicize the person’s name.”

      This strikes me as a form of self-censorship, and is ineffective in the age of social media (as you noted).   I find it irritating when news organizations don’t report the news.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s better to show and report everything – including the impact on others.  (Like Jackie Kennedy did, when her husband was assassinated.)

      Same with the guy in New Zealand. It’s not “inspiring” to watch what he did – from his own lens. It’s sad.

    2. Eric Gelber

      I view this as a mental health issue.

      Mental health is no doubt a factor. But to simply explain away domestic terrorism as a manifestation of mental disorder is to disregard and fail to adequately address other factors. Mental illness is not uniquely American. But what is, is absurdly easy access to guns, including military style assault weapons, which is clearly a major factor in why we lead the globe in incidents of mass murder. And we cannot fail to recognize the fact that the President constantly encourages divisiveness and hatred through his virulent racist and xenophobic rhetoric.

      1. Craig Ross

        When it’s a Muslim, they never talk about mental illness in acts of terror.  When it’s a white supremist, they do.  Don’t you find that telling?

        1. Ron Oertel

          Is there generally some difference between someone acting alone, vs. being part of a group that promotes violence – regardless of ideology or religion?  Seems like group violence is not “owned” by one particular group or another. Nor is mental illness owned by any particular society.

          Seems to me that mental illness is ALWAYS involved, in some manner.

          Once again, George Carlin’s observations come to mind. He seemed to touch on the truth, regardless of political-correctness or ideology.

        2. Bill Marshall

          Is there generally some difference between someone acting alone, vs. being part of a group that promotes violence – regardless of ideology?  Seems like group violence is not “owned” by one particular group or another.

          As to the first bolded, definitely YES…

          But what is missing in your posit is folk who are not a part of a group, a philosophy, whatever… influenced by, ‘wanna-be’s, sometimes…

          Craig, ‘terrorism’, particularly if it involves innocents, is 100% contrary to a devout Muslim’s belief… ask any Muslim… most devout Muslims cried, as we all did, on 9/11… and NOT out of fears for ‘pay-back’…

          Ron, ‘white supremists’ are also not generally part of a group, when it comes to acting out on their views… they are generally mentally disturbed folk who relate to the ‘ideology’, are loners, as it relates to these shootings… other violent (but not mass shooting) events whether it be white supremists, antifa, in places like Bezerkley, Sacramento, Charlottesville, etc. have indeed occurred, where there was “group-think” happening… yet, in Charlottesville, there was a single person who died… run down by an ass who most likely was a wanna-be… otherwise, he would have been marching/chanting with the others…

          Can’t think of an example of ‘group violence’ other than as cited above, in like 40 years…

        3. Ron Oertel

          Bill:  I understand part of your statement, but how would you explain 9/11, if not part of a “group violence” – partly based upon that group’s interpretation of a religion? 

          (There’s probably other examples, as well.)

          What about the genocide that occurs in some other countries? (We can probably take the time to find lots of examples of that.)

        4. Ron Oertel

          Also, are “wannabes” actually part of groups – or at least influenced by them? Was the guy in Charlottsville “kicked out” of any group? (Or “applied”, but was turned down for membership?)

          I was just reading that there were other physical altercations between the groups on that day.

        5. Bill Marshall

          how would you explain 9/11, if not part of a “group violence” – partly based upon that group’s interpretation of a religion? 

          What do you consider as a group?  Islam?  Saudi’s?  Afgan’s?  Radical, politicized a-holes who wrap themselves in the ‘flag’ of Islam?

          Can’t reasonably respond until you reasonably explain your terms…

          What about the genocide that occurs in some other countries? (We can probably take the time to find lots of examples of that.)

          What about it?  Define the “groups” you refer to.  Most genocides have been based on “tribal” affiliations, over history, including relatively recently.

          Am not going to drill down into the other ‘spaghetti’, unless and until you can get more specific.

        6. Ron Oertel

          That’s true, from what I understand of the word.

          Tribes are based upon some shared characteristic, goal, or belief.  Can’t think of anything else that ties them together.

          But for sure, humanity is not completely “enlightened”, at this point.

          As George Carlin said, the world will eventually shake off humanity, like a dog shaking of fleas. (Something like that, as he was simultaneously making fun of people trying to save the earth, when we’re not even saving each other.)

        7. Ron Oertel

          He also noted that the planet will be just fine, without us.

          I’m reluctant to tell you what he said about religion, but you can see for yourself on YouTube.  😉 In any case, it’s brilliant.

    3. Tia Will

      Honest question Alan,

      Do you view jihadist terrorism the same way….a mental illness?

      I see terrorism, the use of violence to promote a political goal as the same no matter who is doing it, regardless of race, religion, political ideology or affiliation.

  8. Jerry Waszczuk

    A social contagion brought about by widespread knowledge unstoppable in the modern age of communication

    Tweet, tweet ! Tweet,  tweet! Shoot and kill . This is a big problem today. Some tweets I read wer beyond and above the First Amendment and free speech.

  9. Alan Hirsch

    Words Matter.

    They inspire action.  I suggest the Hate language from Trump and his administration and set off random people,

    Then you empower those people with Gun, Machine guns. Easily purchased.

    And then militia and blog validate violence, guns as legimate to take out Bad Guy.

    This is a threat, ironically Freedom of Speach. (how free do you feel to speak a public meeting if you know there are enemies there with Guns, aka Open Carry law in many states).

    And Trump et all tells us who Bad Guys are.

    Stocastic Violence is  threat of civil society .

    Words Matter.  And Hate speach must be condemned.

     

     

     

     

    1. John Hobbs

      “Words Matter.”

      So does courage to confront hate speech and the speakers. Seems sadly lacking, not just in Davisville but in our damaged society at large.

    1. Alan Miller

      Yeah, and Charles Manson used the Beatles “Helter Skelter” album as justification to start a race war, thinking the Beatles were sending secret messages to him.  Is that the Beatles fault?

      And I don’t care what the guy uses as an excuse:  religion, politics, what ‘they’ did to him.  There’s no excuse to kill random people.

      1. Eric Gelber

        Were the Beatles spewing hateful speech aimed at immigrants and minority groups? Were the Beatles the leaders of the nation? Did the Beatles characterize white supremacists as  very fine people? Did the Beatles suggest that non-white citizens go back to their own countries? Did the Beatles refer to Mexicans as rapists and murderers? Give me a break. There’s no excuse to kill random people; but there are reasons why it happens.

        1. Alan Miller

          Were the Beatles spewing hateful speech aimed at immigrants and minority groups?

          No.  They were dirty hippies.

          Were the Beatles the leaders of the nation?

          Maybe.  At least the leaders for screaming teenage girls.

          Did the Beatles characterize white supremacists as  very fine people?

          No.  But they did put out the White Album.

          Did the Beatles suggest that non-white citizens go back to their own countries?

          No.

          Did the Beatles refer to Mexicans as rapists and murderers?

          No.

          There’s no excuse to kill random people; but there are reasons why it happens.

          Yep — Donal Trump is the reason.  And Judas Priest is the for teenagers killing themselves.

        2. Alan Miller

          Not much.  I like a few of the psychedelic Lennon stuff, but for the most part, not a fan.  Paul’s stuff is sh*t.  Even when I was seven years old I disliked them.

          I imagine I’ll take more sh*t for this than for my outrageous political views.

      2. David Greenwald Post author

        Manson had developed the concept of a race war and somehow believed that the Beatles sent subtle coded messages through the White Album (Helter Skelter was a song on that album which contained the of his race war, but the whole album was his interpretation). He also believed that the Book of Revelations predicted the Beatles as harbingers of the apocalypse. When the race war failed to materialize, he then used the murders and attempted to me them look like blacks had done them to incite it.

      1. Ron Oertel

        That’s not true, Jerry.  We’re going to talk about it, ultimately leading to conversations regarding The Beatles! 😉
         
        As a side note (and not that it really matters), I saw some comments on Facebook that the latest shooting is not related to right-wing terrorism, and that it might be related to the “other” wing.

        1. Jerry Waszczuk

          Ron : Guns are easy to buy legally or illegally Guns sale is a  big,  very big business  and Americans  love  guns .  Heritage my friend . The everyday shooting news is part of our lives . The mass shootings are just a bigger news and lot of crying and lamenting about tragedy and masacre . That it . This  is never ending story . As I recall one of well known California Senator was pushing hard for gun control and restrictions .

          Senator Yee ended up with a five-year sentence to federal prison. He fell under FBI surveillance for suspected activities with terrorist organizations including buying automatic weapons and shoulder-launched missiles from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an Islamist extremist group based in the southern Philippines); attempting to resell such weapons to an undercover FBI agent

        2. Ron Oertel

          Jerry:  It does seem as though the situation is pretty hopeless.  Probably some combination of ease of access to weapons, and our culture (which you’ve touched upon, in your comment).

          I believe that one can even “print” guns these days, using 3-D printers.

          I was just watching  a program regarding the fairly recent, mass terror attacks in Europe.

          Truth be told, we’re probably more likely to be the victims of “everyday” violent crimes – which hardly even make the news.

          But hey – at least the politicians are there to offer their “prayers and condolences”, and promises to kill those who commit such crimes – even if they’re already dead. Maybe they can kill them twice.

        3. Jerry Waszczuk

          Ron .The other problem is a very strong pro gun  lobby in Congress , Senate and states legislatures . Guns sale is a very political problem plus Second Amendment. You have to look at some countries  which exporting lot of guns to USA for private use . People just loves guns and bloody wars . Human nature . Guns producers should be liable as same as tobacco producers for damages they causing by selling guns without any restrictions .  Today you don’t see so many people smoking cigarettes .

          I do not own gun and  I never had and I am not against guns However ,  I was labeled terrorist in this country like Senator Leland Yee .  Hopeless .

          In 2012 UC Mafia wanted to frame me with Lodi Police . If I would have gun at home in 2012  , than most likely I would be sharing  the prison  cell with Senator Leland Yee in Federal Prison in Forth  Worth , Texas  or I would end  like my psychologist from Lodi.
          On June 21, 2012, UCDPD Sergeant Jennifer Garcia sent Gina Guillaume-Holleman an email to others
           

          “Jerry” is clear any warrants, has no guns registered and no current dealer of sales for guns and has negative criminal history. Lodi PD informed they have nothing on him.
           
          In the light of this information, I cannot help but think of what happened to Senator Yee and his family; to my psychologist Franklin Bernhoft and his family in 2011–2017; to Katehi; to Todd Georlich in December 2010; and to myself and my family in 2007–2018.

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