Two suspects in the mass shooting that killed 14 people at a center for people with developmental disabilities were fatally shot in a gun battle with police hours after the initial incident.
The suspects -- a man and a woman -- had assault-style rifles and handguns, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan told reporters. They were dressed in what he called assault-style clothing.
A third person was detained close to the scene of the shootout, but it is possible he is not connected to the shootings, Burguan said.
- CNN, 3rd Dec 2015
The killing of at least 14 people at the time of writing by three gunmen at a center for people with disabilities, in San Bernardino California, would in any other country be cause for concern. In the United States though, this is the 360th event where four or more people have been killed in 2015 alone.
The sad thing is that this is not surprising any more. In 2014 there were 51,764 "incidents" which resulted in 12,569 people being killed by guns. These figures do not include suicide.
To put this in perspective, I think that more people were killed in the United States in one year, than all the people killed on Australian soil with guns ever. Even if you include the bombing of Darwin; even if you include the 113 years of settlement by Europeans before Federation.
I think that it speaks volumes about the United States' collective value for human life that this is a nation which publicly demands the right to kill unborn babies, publicly demands the right for its citizens' to have the instruments to kill people and yet is repulsed at the idea that the government should provide health care. "Freedom" it seems, is the right to be gunned down and then go bankrupt whilst trying to pay for the consequences of someone else' freedom.
In the last few hours I've found it incredibly hollow to hear from members of the US Congress from both sides, offer the seemingly worthless platitudes that their "thoughts and prayers" are with the victims'. You know what? Faith without works is dead; just like the eleven thousand people who die every year because Congress demonstrates bad faith by not working. US currency might bear the words "In God We Trust" but I only suppose that is true if the name of your god is "Gun" or "Dollar".
These people are in the US Congress. This is the august body which when it is working properly, has the legislative power to put twelve clowns on the moon.
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard?
Am I to infer that we choose to do nothing when it comes to stemming the never ending cycle of gun violence because that too hard?
I think that the best thing that I have heard which encompasses this, was said by John Stuart Mill:
Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
- John Stuart Mill, Inaugural addresse, delivered to the university of St. Andrews, 1st Feb 1867
Why has congress continued to do look on and do nothing? As with any piece of crime fiction, all you need to do is follow the money.
The NRA ranks among the top political spenders in the nation, having spent more than $3m on lobbying in 2014 and more than $28m on “outside spending” – the kind of political spending that is not technically coordinated with candidates’ committees. Candidates receive contributions from the NRA’s Pacs that are more than 76 times larger than contributions from individuals, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
- Alan Yuhas, The Guardian, 22nd Apr 2015.
If we were to assume that total of $31m was uniformly spent across all 538 members of the US Congress, then that's a little over $57,000 per candidate. When you're able to pay more than double the median wage to every single member of a legislature, then something is seriously wrong.
As I was listening to this unfold in the morning, Sydney time, an FBI spokesperons said:
"We do not know if this is a terrorist incident."
This obvious response to this would be "does it matter?" When the "Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act" of 2015 was introduced, the NRA yet again lobbied to have the bill defeated. The only conclusion that I can draw is that the NRA itself is a terrorist organisation. It certainly fits the legal criteria for one.
According to the FBI:
18 U.S.C. § 2331 defines "international terrorism" and "domestic terrorism" for purposes of Chapter 113B of the Code, entitled "Terrorism”:
"Domestic terrorism" means activities with the following three characteristics:
Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
It's certainly coerced a civilian population and influenced the polices of government by coercion; so I don't think that it's that much of a stretch to have it officially labelled as a terrorist organisation.
The world reeled in horror as terrorist tore through Paris and killed 140 people. In the United States, that number of people are killed by people with guns every four days.
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
- Thomas Jefferson
I can only assume that "blood of patriots" must include that which belongs to people with disabilities, the elderly and children younger than the age of ten.
America will wake up the next day, roll over and see this again and again. Kill, blather, rinse, repeat.